Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act- (CAA) 

Proportion
Categories: JOURNAL, Journal
THE LAWWAY WITH LAWYERS JOURNAL
VOLUME:-9 ISSUE NO:- 9 ,MARCH 27, 2024
ISSN (ONLINE):- 2584-1106
Website: www.the lawway with lawyers.com
Email: thelawwaywithelawyers@gmail.com

Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act- (CAA) 

Authored by:- Saurabh Trivedi 

LLB- 2year student 

Brahmanand P.G College, Kanpur 

Abstract 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has become a point of controversy and dispute in  India and internationally. The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended in December 2019 by the  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which gave undocumented migrants from Afghanistan,  Bangladesh, and Pakistan who belonged to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and  Christian communities and entered India before December 31, 2014, a pathway to Indian  citizenship. 

This law, which was supposedly designed to provide safety to marginalized communities in  nearby nations, has provoked intense opposition and criticism for several reasons. This  abstract looks at the legal, social, and political consequences of the CAA in an attempt to  break down its complex nature. First, it explores the complexities of the law, examining the  constitutionality of the CAA in the context of India’s secular culture and inclusive values. Second, it evaluates the social repercussions, delving into issues of alienation, discrimination,  and division among communities, especially in light of India’s diverse cultural landscape.  

Thirdly, it delves into the political aspects, examining how the CAA influences coalition  politics, electoral dynamics, and governmental policies. To successfully navigate and  emphasise the importance complexities of citizenship, identity, and belonging in modern  India, this abstract concludes by highlighting the necessity of having a comprehensive  understanding of the Citizenship Amendment Act and of inclusive policymaking, informed  dialogue, and respect for constitutional values. 

Introduction 

The Citizenship Amendment Act is a law enacted by the Indian government on  December 12, 2019. The CAA amends The Citizenship Act, of 1955 providing a  pathway to Indian citizenship for religiously prosecuted minorities from neighbouring  countries. Citizenship Amendment Act. (2019). No. 47 of 2019. New Delhi, India:  Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India.1 

1 Citizenship Amendment Act. (2019). No. 47 of 2019. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Law and  Justice, Government of India.

Specifically, the CAA offers expedited citizenship to non-Muslim migrants including Hindus,  Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have fled due to religious prosecution from  Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and entered India on or before December 31, 2014. The  law does not grant such eligibility to Muslims from these countries since Muslims are in  majority in these countries. The Indian government’s decision to use religion as a basis for  granting citizenship sparked a global outrage. This was the first instance when religion was  overtly made a prerequisite for citizenship under Indian law, and it invited widespread  condemnation from various quarters including The Office of the United Nations High  Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)2. 

The implementation of CAA has been criticised as discriminating based on religion, it stirred  strong reactions from a few sections of the society, with accusations that the act violates the  provisions of the Indian constitution. As per the Indian government, since Pakistan,  Afghanistan and Bangladesh are Islamic states, therefore it is unlikely that Muslims would  have faced religious persecution there. However historically “Shia” and “Ahmadis” have faced  persecution in these countries 

The Citizen Amendment Act was notified by the central government on March 11, 2024. Based  on the data provided by the Intelligence Bureau, the CAA is expected to benefit approximately  30,000 individuals in the immediate future. 

Key Provisions of the CAA 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of India contains several key provisions, which  include: 

  • : The CAA defines Illegal migrants as Individuals who
Definition of Illegal Migrants

 

have entered India without valid documents or whose documents have expired. 

  • : The CAA has exempted certain groups of migrants,  
Exemption of special groups

 

specifically Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists and Christians from neighbouring  countries Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. 

  • : Under the CAA, migrants belonging to certain religious
Fast-track Citizenship

 

minorities and originating from specific countries are permitted to pursue citizenship  through naturalisation. This entails a reduction in the residency criterion from 11  years to 5 years. 

  • : The most controversial debate on CAA is the exclusion of
Exclusion of Muslims

 

Muslims in its provisions. Critics argue that it is against the basic principles of the  Constitution. 

2The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

  • : The CAA states that the reason for granting
Religious Persecution Criterion

 

citizenship is religious prosecution. 

  • : The CAA applies to individuals who have entered India on
Scope and Applicability

 

or before December 31, 2014. 

  • : The CAA has faced criticism and legal
Controversy and Legal Challenges

 

challenges with critics arguing that it undermines India’s secular fabric and violates  the principles of secularism and non-discrimination enshrined in the Constitution. 

Historical Context of Citizenship Laws in India 

Citizenship and its laws have changed over time and differ across countries. To understand  the evolution of citizenship, it’s important to look at the laws that have developed over  centuries. This helps us understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens in different  societies. By examining these legal frameworks, we can gain insights into the social,  political, and economic conditions of different times and places. We’ll give you a brief  overview of the history of citizenship laws. 

  • British Era: Indian modern citizenship laws are rooted in its colonial past. During  colonial rule, Indians were treated as the subject of the queen and they were not even  considered a citizen of the state, they were also deprived of basic fundamental rights.  Discrimination was at its peak based on colour and Religion. During the British Raj, the Indian Naturalization Act of 1892 was introduced, which was a significant step towards providing citizenship to non-British subjects residing in India. This law paved  the way for naturalization, which was a crucial development in promoting inclusivity  and diversity in the region. 
  • Partition of India: India was divided in 1947, into India and Pakistan. It had a historic  impact on citizenship issues. The Indian Independence Act of 1947 defined Indian citizenship and gave a pathway to auto acquisition of Indian citizenship to those domiciled in India. The mass migration of people between both countries resulted in a  significant exodus of people, displacement, and the challenge of determining  citizenship in the newly formed countries. 
  • The Constitution of India: In 1950, India adopted the Constitution that led to the formation of the new citizenship laws. The Constitution defines who is considered an Indian and the methods by which citizenship of an individual can be acquired, lost or  terminated. Principles of “jus soli” (Citizenship by Birth) and “jus sanguinis” (Citizenship by descent). 
  • Amendments: Over the years, several amendments and acts have been made to the  citizenship laws to address various concerns. India’s Citizenship Act of 1955 laid the foundation for citizenship in the country, and with subsequent amendments in 1986 and 2003, the law has been further refined to clarify and modify provisions related to  descent, registration, and naturalisation. These changes have ensured that citizenship  in India is fair, just, and accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance.
  • National Register of Citizens (NRC): It is the legal register of all citizens of India. It  has been a significant issue in the state of Assam where efforts to update the NRC to identify illegal immigrants have led to concerns about exclusion and statelessness

Legal Challenges and Debates Surrounding the CAA 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been the subject of controversy and criticism  since its inception. It has faced numerous legal challenges from various segments of society.  The exclusion of Muslims from the Act has sparked a debate on the legality of the legislation. Many constitutional experts believe that the CAA directly contradicts Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution. The CAA faces the main challenges based on: 

  • Legality: One of the primary debates is based on the legality of the Act. Critics argue that the act is a direct violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees us equality before the law without any discrimination based on Religion,  Caste, Colour, Sex or Place of Birth. They believe that this act not only violates the  provision of the Constitution but also violates the principle of secularism and equality. 
  • Exclusion: The opposition argues that the exclusion of Muslims from the provision of this act discriminates against a specific community which is not only against the secularism of the country but also a Human rights violation. 
  • Global Criticism: The act has been criticised by the United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) globally because it violates international treaties.
  • Social Divide: Critics argue that this act will create a divide among Muslims and various other sections of society, which will create religious tension in the country. They argue that the law undermines the country’s secular ethos and risks undermining  social cohesion. 
Impact on Assam Accord: In the state of Assam, there are concerns that the CAA
contradicts the Assam Accords of 1985, which was introduced to resolve the issue of
illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion Critics argue that the CAA undermines 

 

 

the Accord’s provisions by offering citizenship to certain religious groups. 

  • : Several petitions challenging the constitutionality of the  
Legal Challenges in court

 

CAA have been filed in the Supreme Court and other Indian courts. Courts are  expected to adjudicate on the matter which will have significant implications in the  future. 

The global concerns and criticism regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)  primarily revolve around its potential implications for human rights, democracy, and  social cohesion in India. It is a reminder of the importance of upholding constitutional 

values and respecting the rights of all individuals, regardless of their religious  background. 

Impact of the CAA on Refugees and Minorities 

As per the government, CAA is a law to give citizenship to religious prosecuted migrants  from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31,  2014, but it excludes Muslims which led to widespread protests and criticism. 

  • Refugee Protection: CAA opens a pathway to expedited citizenship to religiously  prosecuted migrants from neighbouring countries, particularly Hindus, Sikhs, Jains,  Buddhists, Parsis and Christians, many law experts argue that this act provides much needed protection to vulnerable communities facing religious prosecution in their  home countries, and this step should be taken a long back from the previous  government. 
  • Humanitarian: As far as refugees and migrants are concerned, particularly those who  have fled from their home countries due to religious prosecution, this act provides a  sense of security and relief, it also provides legal recognition to them. However, the  exclusion of Muslims raises questions about the right to equality guaranteed by the  Constitution. 
  • Social Fabric: The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has triggered a wave of protests throughout India. Critics argue that the law undermines the country’s secular foundation and promotes division along religious lines. The polarizing nature of the  law has put a strain on inter-community relationships and intensified political  tensions. 
  • International response: The CAA not only has drawn criticism within the country but  also from the international community with concerns raised by the United Nations,  the Human Rights Commission and foreign governments about its discriminatory  nature and impact on different communities. 

In summary, the impact of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on refugees and migrants  is complex, but it has both positive and negative consequences depending on one’s  perspective. Despite the pathway to citizenship offered to some persecuted minorities, the  exclusionary provisions and potential implications for social cohesion and human rights have  generated significant controversy and debate. 

Examining Constitutional Validity: Arguments and Counterarguments

Arguments in Favor of the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)  primarily revolve around the following points: 

  • Non-Discrimination: Advocates argue that the CAA does not violate the principle of  equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution. They argue that the law aims to protect  persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries and does not discriminate against  any Indian citizens based on religion. 
  • : Proponents highlight the humanitarian aspect of the
Protecting Religious Minorities

 

CAA, emphasizing that it provides a lifeline to religious minorities facing persecution  in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. They argue that it fulfils India’s moral  obligation to protect vulnerable communities fleeing religious persecution. 

  • : Some proponents argue that the CAA is necessary for national
National Security

 

security reasons. They contend that granting citizenship to persecuted minorities helps  strengthen India’s strategic interests. 

  • : Proponents argue that Parliament has the authority to
Parliamentary Sovereignty

 

enact laws related to citizenship and immigration. The CAA was passed by both  houses of Parliament and therefore should be considered constitutional, as it falls  within the legislative competence of Parliament. 

Arguments against the Favor of the constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act  (CAA) primarily revolve around the following points: 

  • Violation of Constitutional provisions: Opponents argue that CAA is a clear violation of Article 14 of the Indian constitution as it discriminates on the grounds of religion, which is prohibited by the constitution. 
  • Anti-Secular: Opponents argue that CAA is against the social fabric of the country as it introduced religious criteria for obtaining citizenship which not only discriminates based on religion but also widens the gap between the communities. 
  • Exclusion of Muslims: Opponents argue that even if CAA offers citizenship based on religiously prosecuted migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh still there are many sects in the Muslim community facing religious prosecution such as Shia  and Ahmadi but they are not included in the CAA which is again a point of criticism. 
  • National Register of Citizens: Opponents argue that CAA when combined with NRC will render millions of people stateless, particularly Muslims who may not be able to provide the required documents. 

The CAA in Practice: Case Studies and Implementation 

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) immediately challenged the legality of the CAA  in a petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution upon the Bill’s passage. Approximately 

200 petitions have been linked to the IUML petition so far. Several additional plaintiffs soon  followed. The main allegation against the CAA in these petitions is discrimination based on  religion. In addition, they argue that it breaches Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution,  which guarantees illegal migrants the fundamental right to equality and dignity. 

The Supreme Court is requested in the petitions to strike down the CAA on grounds of  infringement of constitutional rights. Section 2(1)(b) of the CAA, which explicitly gives  Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or  Pakistan a path to citizenship, is specifically singled out in the majority of the petitions. 

Implementation Challenges:

 

  • Paperwork Issues: The targeted migrant communities’ lack of paperwork posed a  significant barrier to the CAA’s execution. Many unauthorized migrants were  ineligible for citizenship under the law and lacked the necessary identification. 
  • Procedural Challenges: The CAA’s complex and bureaucratic citizenship registration  procedure has drawn criticism for its drawbacks. There were complications and  uncertainty resulting from the need for migrants to undergo a complicated legal  process and develop a lot of documentation. 
  • Political opposition: The CAA’s execution faced obstacles by the state  government’s opposition to it, particularly those led by opposition parties. Several  states refused to assist the national government with the implementation of the law,  resulting in legal battles and administrative challenges. 
  • International Pressure: The government is facing pressure from many nations  especially Western countries arguing that the act is against the social fabric of the  country and will impact the image of the country to make a law based on religion. It  violates the principle of secularism, which is enshrined in the basic structure of the  constitution. 

References and Citations: A Comprehensive List 

  • Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
  • Human Rights Watch. (2020). India Events of 2019. URL:

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/india

  • Citizenship Amendment Act. (2019). No. 47 of 2019. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India.
  • Citizenship Amendment Bill: India’s new ‘anti-Muslim’ law explained Archived 12  December 2019 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, 11 December 2019. 
  • Malik, Shahnawaz Ahmed (21 July 2020). “Future of Citizenship Laws in India With Special Reference to Implementation of NRC in Assam”. Journal of Legal Studies and Research. 6 (4). ISSN 2455-2437. SSRN 3665733
  • Roy, Anupama (2010), Mapping Citizenship in India, OUP India, ISBN 978-0-19- 908820-1
  • Universal’s The Citizenship Act, 1955, Universal Law Publishing Co., United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2004
  • “Constitutionality of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (Timeline of hearing before the Supreme Court of India)”. One Law Street. 16 April 2020.

Conclusion

The final verdict on the Citizenship Amendment Act is that while it may have been seen as a  step in the right direction by some, there are still concerns regarding its impact on the  principles of pluralism, inclusivity, and humanitarian ideals that are fundamental to the ethos  of India reflected in its constitution. Given the bitter controversy surrounding the Citizenship  Amendment Act, it is crucial for India to uphold its ethos of being pluralistic, inclusive, and  humanitarian in order to maintain harmony and unity among its diverse population.  Moreover, the case of the Citizenship Amendment Act highlights the need for further legal  and social changes to ensure full acceptance and equality for all minorities in Indian society  

As a law student researching the effects of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that this  legislation has sparked a divisive legal and moral debate in India. Supporters of the  Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) contend that it acts as a means of giving protection to  marginalized groups from persecution, but detractors claim that by making religion a  requirement for citizenship, the CAA subverts the secular values contained in the Indian  Constitution. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act represents a significant shift in India’s approach to  citizenship and immigration policy. Its supporters define it as a humanitarian duty to protect  Minorites from religious prosecution not only from its neighbouring countries but across the  world, as they believe that India is a natural homeland to Hindus and others and its moral  duty of the government to protect their rights. As per the Government, Minorities should  never be worried about CAA as this act is made just to give citizenship to religiously  prosecuted migrants from neighbouring countries and CAA does not have any provision to  strip anyone from their citizenship.

While its opponents argue about its exclusionary nature and potential implications for India’s  secular fabric, they claim that CAA along with NRC has a provision that can restrict Muslim  migrants from the same countries from getting citizenship, not only this but also the  documents required by NRC to prove their citizenship, Muslims are worried that they will not  be able to get these documents and will end up being deported or sent to the detention centre.  Opponents also argue that this act is a direct violation of Article 14 of the constitution, hence  this act is unconstitutional. 

Additionally, it is imperative to work towards comprehensive legal and social reforms that  safeguard the rights and interests of all communities, irrespective of their religious or ethnic  backgrounds. Emphasizing the importance of equality and non-discrimination will be crucial  in fostering unity and harmony in the country. 

Moving forward, the Indian government needs to address the concerns raised by various  segments of society regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act. This can be achieved through  open dialogue, transparency, and a commitment to upholding the principles of pluralism and  inclusivity. 

The act was recently notified by Indian Government on March 11,2024. 

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *