What is Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA): A Comprehensive Overview

By Amit Agrawal

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Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA): A Comprehensive Overview

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was ushered into existence by the Indian Parliament on December 11, 2019, and officially enacted on December 12 of the same year.

Recently, the Central government rolled out the regulations governing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), following assurances from Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the legislation, passed in 2019, would be enforced prior to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

#### Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act:

The CAA introduces amendments to the Citizenship Act of 1955, offering a pathway to Indian citizenship for individuals of specific religious denominations – Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis – who fled persecution in neighbouring Muslim-majority nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, before December 31, 2014.

The implementation of the CAA was a campaign promise by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), although the regulatory framework had not been previously finalized.

Under the 2019 amendment, migrants arriving in India before December 31, 2014, and experiencing religious persecution in their country of origin are eligible for expedited citizenship. The amendment also reduces the residency requirement for naturalization from twelve to six years. According to an Intelligence Bureau report, over 30,000 individuals are expected to benefit immediately from the enactment of the CAA.

#### The Unfolding of Events:

Despite the passage of the CAA by Parliament in December 2019 and its notification the following day, its enforcement was delayed pending the establishment of regulatory guidelines.

After a lapse of more than four years since the amendment, the Union Home Ministry announced its intention to formalize the rules of the CAA ahead of the impending Lok Sabha elections, scheduled tentatively for April-May 2024.

The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for 2021-22 revealed that from April 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, a total of 1,414 individuals from non-Muslim minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan were granted Indian citizenship through registration or naturalization under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The enactment of the CAA in 2019 sparked nationwide protests from December 2019 to February 2020, culminating in the Northeast Delhi riots, claiming 13 lives and causing extensive property damage. The intervention of the UN High Commission underscored the gravity of the situation, prompting intervention in the Supreme Court on March 3, 2020.

The Union Home Ministry, following the passage of the law, periodically sought extensions from committees to finalize the rules governing the submission of applications for Indian citizenship.

On March 11, 2024, the Centre officially notified the rules governing the Citizenship Amendment Act. The regulations stipulate that the entire application process for Indian citizenship under the law will be conducted online for all eligible candidates.

The unveiling of the CAA regulations marks a significant milestone in Indian legislative history, setting the stage for a structured approach to citizenship applications under the amended legislation as the country braces for upcoming national elections.

Amit Agrawal

https://mahitikida.in/ I am a Marathi Blogger, Owner/Founder of https://mahitikida.in/. 4 Years of Professional Blogging experience.

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