Citizenship Amendment Act enforced: CAA Rules explained

The Rules provide for an Empowered Committee to grant citizenship to applicants and maintain records of such citizens, which will be accessible to the Home Ministry and security agencies.
CAA Rules Explained
CAA Rules Explained

The contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 has been enforced, with the Central government notifying the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 on Monday.

More than four years after it was passed by Parliament, the law and its Rules aims to grant citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who arrived in India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, on or before December 31, 2014.

The CAA was amended to specify the religious categories that will avail the benefit of citizenship.

The amendment states that persons belonging to the above communities and nations, and who have been exempted by the Central government under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946, shall not be treated as “illegal migrant”.

Consequently, such persons shall be eligible to apply for citizenship under the 1955 Act.

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

The law garnered massive protests all over the country, and is currently under challenge before the Supreme Court of India. A closer look at the notified Rules reveals how the government aims to enforce the law.

Rule 10A: Who can apply for citizenship

Rule 10A deals with the application by eligible persons for grant of citizenship either by registration or naturalisation.

The Rule further sets out criteria for those making the application on the basis of the nature of origin and relationships shared with persons who are already Indian citizens. Specific conditions are to be fulfilled by persons of Indian origin, person who is married to a citizen of India, minor child of a person who is a citizen of India, person whose parents are registered as citizens of India, person whose parents (either) was a citizen of Independent India and a person who is registered as an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder.

In all such cases, the Rule mandates fulfilling of the desired conditions under the various clauses and in accordance with the Rules, subject to certain exceptions.

For example, a person whose parents are registered as citizens of India can make an application for registering themselves as a citizen by fulfilling the criteria of the relevant clause under Section 5 of the Act and submitting the requisite form in accordance with a specific rule. 

The Rule also requires an affidavit “verifying the correctness of the statements made in the application” along with an “affidavit from an Indian citizen testifying the character of the applicant” seeking citizenship by naturalisation.

Knowledge of Indian language for persons seeking citizenship through naturalisation

A person seeking citizenship through naturalisation also needs to declare that they possess adequate knowledge of one of the languages as specified in the Eighth Schedule - dealing with the official languages of India - of the Constitution. 

The applicant shall be considered to have adequate knowledge of the language concerned if he can speak or read or write that language,” the Rule says.

The Rule also mandates the irrevocable renunciation of any other citizenship and declaration that the same will not be claimed in future. 

Eighth Schedule of Constitution
Eighth Schedule of ConstitutionMinistry of External Affairs

Rule 11A: How to apply for citizenship and to whom

This Rule deals with the authority to which the application seeking citizenship has to be made by eligible persons.

The application has to be made in an “electronic form” to the “Empowered Committee” through a “district-level committee” as notified by the Central government.

Following the submission, an acknowledgement will be electronically generated. The district-level committee headed by an officer will verify the documents and also administer an “oath of allegiance” specified under the law and forward it to the Empowered Committee. 

Composition of Committees

In states or union territories, the Empowered Committee will be headed by the Director (Census Operations) of the state or union Territory concerned and further comprise:

  1. An officer in the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India;

  2. Jurisdictional Foreigners Regional Registration Officer concerned; 

  3. the State Informatics Officer of National Informatics Centre of the State or Union Territory concerned; 

  4. Post Master General of the State or Union Territory concerned or a Postal Officer nominated by the Post Master General not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India.

Besides, the following have been listed out as “invitees” of the Empowered Committee: 

  1. A representative from the office of the Principal Secretary (Home) or Additional Chief Secretary (Home) of the State Government or Union Territory concerned;

  2. A representative of the jurisdictional Divisional Railway Manager of Railways.

District-level committees will be headed by the jurisdictional Senior Superintendent or Superintendent of Post Office, who shall be the designated officer. It will further comprise a District Informatics Officer or District Informatics Assistant of the district concerned; a nominee of the Central government and the following officers, who will be “invitees” of the committee:

  1. A representative not below the rank of Naib Tehsildar or equivalent from the Office of District Collector; 

  2. Jurisdictional Station Master of Railways. 

The quorum of each committee will be two, including a chairperson.

Rule 13A: Role of Empowered Committee

The Empowered Committee has the power to grant citizenship to eligible applicants after scrutinising documents and on being convinced that the requisite conditions are fulfilled.

The Committee, after being satisfied that the “applicant is a fit and proper person to be registered or naturalised,” may grant them citizenship of India.

Upon being granted citizenship, a registration certificate signed by the Committee’s chairman will be issued to the person. Similarly, a certificate of naturalisation will be issued to those who have been granted citizenship through naturalisation. 

This Committee is required to maintain a register of details of the registered persons or those who are naturalised as citizens of India while making it accessible to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the security agency.

[Read CAA Rules]

CAA Rules.pdf
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