Citizenship Amendment Act
The citizenship act specifies the relationship between the State and its individuals. The Constitution of India deals with Citizenship under Part II (Articles 5 to 11); however, the constitution does not contain any elaborate provision related to Citizenship as it identifies only those individuals who became citizens of India during the commencement of the constitution.
It does not deal with the issues of acquiring and loss of citizenship in India. Hence Article 11 of the constitution empowers the parliament to enact laws with respect to Citizenship in India.
Citizenship Amendment Act Background
India’s citizenship rights did not exist until India gained its independence. Such rights were not guaranteed under British rule; the British Citizenship and Aliens Rights Act of 1914, which was abolished in 1948, was in effect throughout the pre-independence period. According to the British Nationality Act, Indians were originally classified as British subjects without citizenship.
A large-scale movement of the population took place across a new border separating India and Pakistan after the partition in 1947, due to which the constituent assembly limited the scope of the provision of citizenship in the constitution and empowered the Parliament for determining citizenship rights. As a result, Parliament enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955.
Read More: Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution
Citizenship Amendment Act 1955
The act of 1955 talks about the acquisition and determination of Indian Citizenship, it also talks about overseas citizenship and the termination of Indian citizenship.
|Acquisition of Indian citizenship||Loss of Indian Citizenship|
Five amendments to the Citizenship Act of 1955 have been made since then in 1986, 2003, 2005, 2015, and 2019. By way of these modifications, Parliament has condensed the more general and universal foundations of citizenship based on the fact of birth through these amendments.
Read about: Salient Features of Constitution of India
Citizenship Amendment Act 1986
The original Citizenship Act, which gave citizenship to everyone born in India on the basis of jus soli, and the 1986 revision to Section 3 were both more expansive than the constitutional provision. People born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, had to be citizens of India as a result of the amendment.
A person is only eligible for citizenship if either of their parents was an Indian citizen at the time of their birth and they were born between July 1, 1987, and December 4, 2003.
Read More: Constituent Assembly of India
Citizenship Amendment Act 2003
The standards were revised to be more stringent in order to prevent infiltration from Bangladesh under this amendment act of 2003. In addition to their own birth, children born on or after December 4, 2004, are now required to have either both Indian citizens or one Indian citizen and one who is not an illegal immigrant.
India is close to adopting the limited jus sanguinis (blood relationship) basis thanks to these restrained amendments. According to this, a person who entered India illegally and stayed there for seven years cannot become a citizen of India by naturalisation or registration.
Read More: Jammu and Kashmir
Citizenship Amendment Act 2005
The dual citizenship system was included. Except for those who are citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh, this was applicable to all nationals.
Read More: Reorganisation of States
Citizenship Amendment Act 2015
Citizenship through Registration and Naturalisation: For individuals working for the Indian government and residing in the nation for 12 months, the government may ease the requirements for citizenship for up to 30 days. The amalgamation of the Persons of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizens of India programs.
Renunciation and Cancellation of Foreign Citizenship: There are provisions to revoke the Overseas Citizenship of India card received by a spouse of an Indian citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India in the event that the marriage is declared null and void or the spouse marries someone else.
Read More: Preamble of Indian Constitution
Citizenship Amendment Act 2019
The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended by the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA Bill), which was first introduced in Lok Sabha in 2016. The CAA was passed in order to provide Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants who arrived in the country on or before December 31, 2014. Important features of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 are given below:
- If they arrived in India before December 14, 2014, members of six communities—Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians—from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan may do so.
- The amendment shortens the 11-year naturalisation process to only take five years as a particular requirement for applicants who practice one of these six religions.
- The Act states that after attaining citizenship, such individuals will be treated as Indian citizens starting on the day they were admitted to the country, and all legal actions taken against them in connection with their illegal immigration or naturalisation will be dropped.
- Furthermore, it warns that holders of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards, which let foreign nationals of Indian origin reside and work continuously in India, risk losing their status if they break local laws for both serious felonies and minor infractions.
- These immigrants were also exempt from the Passport Act and the Foreigners Act according to two notices. Many Assamese organisations opposed this Bill because it would provide citizenship to undocumented Hindu migrants from Bangladesh.
- The argument put up by the law is that while Muslims make up the majority in Bangladesh, they cannot be held to the same standards as Hindus and Buddhists who fled to India due to religious persecution.