On December 4, the Union Cabinet in India signed off on a legislation that stands to give citizenship to certain religious minorities but not Muslims.
What is the Indian Citizenship Act?
Made law in 1955, 8 years after India's independence from the British, the Indian Citizenship Act is the basis by which citizenship was extended to Indians from all states. This also made their earlier Commonwealth citizen status or British citizen status void, bringing the Indian people together under one citizenship umbrella.
The act has provisions to determine various kinds of citizenship including that by birth, by registration, by naturalisation or by descent.
This act is the one where amendment is being proposed. The clause being amended is the one that defines illegal migrants and their ability to apply for citizenship by naturalisation. The citizenship by naturalisation clause currently allows resident immigrants to get citizenship if they have lived in the country for more than 11 years - along with other terms and conditions.
What is the amendment bill?
The bill, if passed, would change a key part in the category for illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan - Muslim-majority states that were once part of the undivided India as defined in the Government of India act 1935.
The amendment proposes granting the ability to apply for nationality to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Parsis fleeing persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan - even without any documentation i.e. illegal migrants.
The bill also proposes to relax the the 11-year requirement of residing in India to at least 6 years for the above migrants to India under the citizenship by naturalisation clause.
However, in a controversial move, the amendment has excluded Muslims entirely in this category.
SOURCE : GULFNEWS