Why Everyone Should Support Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA)

What is the CAA?

According to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA), Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Parsi migrants who have entered India illegally-that is, without a visa-on or before December 31, 2014 from the Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and have stayed in the country for five years, are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

Salient features of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA)

The recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 is one of the logical act enacted by the Parliament. Following are the salient things about this act or law:

1. The Act does not dwell in ambiguity so that the loopholes can be exploited later, it clearly lies who can expect what, clearly states the source of the issue, and it is not afraid to take a clear stand.

2. The recent Citizenship Amendment Act does not impact Indian citizens in any manner. It relates to individuals who are not citizens of India.

3. Citizenship Amendment Act is meant ONLY for persecuted MINORITIES of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Muslims of these countries are not minorities in their respective countries. They are majorities. India has no obligation to support any kind of majorities world over.

4. Mass migration in 1971, from Bangladesh to India, led to India liberating Bangladesh from former Pakistan. Citizenship Amendment Act is a peaceful means of solving a similar issue. This legal action should be viewed as a continuity of 1971 liberation of Bangladesh and finished an incomplete agenda of the 1947 divide.

5. It is true that the minority’s population size has drastically reduced in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan between 1947 to 2019. This is due to their persecution for this period. It is a statement of fact, and not meant to be offensive.

6. Non-Muslims who have come to India from these countries are here due to persecution (generally most of the cases), while Muslims came to India for a better life. Immigration for to “better lifestyle” is always regulating by every sovereign country. This is an international rule with immigration policies & Governance.

7. The Citizenship Amendment Act is not divisive as Christians have been considered for citizenship. Side by Side Hindu Tamilians from Sri Lanka are not considered for citizenship. So there is no bias in favor of Hindus. It considers all religions based on merits of the case, and those excluded are not persecuted. Any kind of intra religious conflicts in Islam is to be treated separately as it relates to proving which form of worship is superior.

8. Every sovereign country has the right to decide whom it wants into the country.

9. Citizenship Amendment Act indicates that India is compassionate with tormented peoples, not necessarily Hindus.

10. Law, Policy & Governance is a continuous process and should fulfill the needs of the times.

Why we should support CAA?

1. It is a law to confer, and not to deprive citizenship. It is not applicable to already existing citizens.

2. The three tests under Article 14, i.e. reasonable objective must be sought (which is religiously persecuted minority protection), intelligible differentia (affirmative action or positive discrimination in this case) and a rational nexus between ‘those who are included’ and ‘those who are not’ is present. In this argument, it can be contested that Ahmediyas, Sri Lankan Hazaras, Shias are not given protection under the Act and therefore it is discriminatory. However, these strands are subject to ethnic violence. The difference between religious persecutions and those subject to ethnic violence is to be noted. The Bill provides protection to those minorities which are religiously persecuted.

3. Indian Muslims are in no way affected by the amended act, they are and they will continue to enjoy the benefits as legitimate Indian citizens.

4. The basic structure of the Constitution which includes secularism is further strengthened by the inclusion of minorities.

5. Article 15 is not violated as it only applies to citizens of India.

6. The amendment considers the interests of the north-eastern states, by excluding the tribal areas under the sixth schedule from the provision of citizenship for illegal migrants.

7. With regard to legislative competence, it is submitted that Article 11 confers upon the Parliament plenary powers to make laws with regard to citizenship.

Also Read – Why Everyone Should not Support the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA)

Md Sahabuddin Mondal

Junior Advocate, Calcutta High Court

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