The CAB or the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a new act that was passed by the Parliament of India on 11th December 2019. This bill is known to be the amended version of another Citizenship Act, which was passed in the year of 1955. According to this act, the Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian migrants who have entered in the nation of India illegally (without a legal visa) before 31st December of 2014, from the Muslim-majority countries, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, can apply for Indian Citizenship.
However, before providing their application, they will have to show the proof that they have stayed in the country for these five years. Nevertheless, only the six previously mentioned religions will be able to enjoy the benefits of this act, other than the people from the Muslim religion. This is actually the very first act of India where religion has been used as a prime criterion for citizenship under the law of India.
History of the Act
As mentioned before, the first Citizenship Act of India was passed by the Indian Government in the year of 1955. This bill, and its succeeding modifications, prohibited the immigrants without any visa from acquiring the citizenship of India. It defined the émigrés as the citizens of other countries and provided provisions to jail or deports them who stayed here without their travel documents. However, unlike the 2019 bill, the Citizen Act of 1955 did not use religion as a criterion. It was applicable for anyone who came to India without any legal travel documents or stayed here even after their visa was expired.
After 1955, the Citizen Act bill was introduced again in the year of 2016 by the BJP government. Even though the act was passed by the lower house of the Indian Parliament, which is also known as Lok Sabha, it got stalled in Rajya Sabha because of the widespread protests in India. However, the BJP Government introduced the bill in 2019 again, which, the Indian Parliament ultimately passed on 11th December. As of now, the act has only been applied to the state of Assam.
Reasons behind the Enactment of this Act
Just like the Citizenship Act of 1955, the CAA bill was enacted to provide for the determination and the acquisition of Indian citizenship. Here are some of the reasons why the Indian Government thought of passing this act.
- To Stop Trans-Border Migration
Since the year of 1947, the incidents of trans-border migration has been continuously happening between India and its neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Therefore, many people, who belong to other countries, have come and started living here. A lot of people have also fled from these countries and took shelter in India and stayed here even after their travel documents were expired. This is one of the prime reasons why the government chose to introduce this act.
- To Give Shelter to the People Who Face Prosecution Because of Their Religion
Unlike India, the constitutions from the other neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan generally provide for a particular religion. Therefore, the people who belong to the other religions usually face prosecutions in those countries. Through this act, the Government of India seeks to help those people who have fled from the other countries and took shelter in India in fear of prosecution.
- To Grant Immunity to the People of Minor Religions
Aside from helping the people who have persecutions from the neighboring countries of India, the bill also seeks to grant them immunity by providing them with Indian citizenship. However, it is only applicable to those who belong from Hindu, Parsi, Christian, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist religion.
- To Protect the Constitutional Guarantee Provided to the People of North Indian States
Apart from the aforementioned reason, the CAA Act of 2019 also seeks to protect the constitutional guarantee that was provided to the people of the North Indian States, such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, etc.
Commonly Asked Questions on CAA Act of 2019
On Whom Does the CAA Act Apply To?
The Citizen Amendment Act of 2019 is only relevant for the people belonging from some specific religions, such as Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, who have migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan before 1st January of 2014. However, it is only applicable to them who have faced persecution from those countries because of their religion.
Nevertheless, this act is not applicable to other foreigners, including the people belonging from the Mohammedan religion, who have migrated from other countries, especially the three aforementioned nations.
How Does the CAB Act Affect Indian Citizens?
The CAB Act does not affect the Indian citizens in any possible way. Even after the passing of this act, they can get benefitted by all the fundamental rights, which were conferred to them by the Indian Constitution. Therefore, it can be said that this new law is not applicable to any legal citizens of India, including the Indians who belong from the Muslim religion.
Is the CAA Act of 2019 Connected with the NRC in Any Way?
No, from an overall point of view, the CAA Act of 2019 and NRC have no connection at all. The NRC is conducted to count the legitimate number of citizens in India. The lawful provisions of NRC have been a part of the Citizenship Act of 1955, since the year of 2004. However, the new act, which was passed in 2019, has not altered or changed them in any way at all.
Does the CAA cover any other form of Prosecution?
CAB/CAA Act of 2019 No, the new CAA Act is completely focused on the foreigners of six different minority community groups. Who belongs from the three neighboring countries of India. It does not help with any other types of prosecution at all.