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The Central Government has notified the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 received assent in the Lok Sabha on December 11, last year. The Rajya Sabha has also signed off on the controversial legislation the following day.
The Bill seeks to add a proviso to the definition of “illegal migrant” under Section 2 of the Citizenship Act. The proposed proviso states thus:
“Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of that Act.”
In effect, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Act. Another change is that the Bill seeks to reduce the number of years required for citizenship by naturalisation for the above mentioned communities. The earlier requisite period of residence in India for eleven years will be cut down to five years.
The Apex Court, which issued notice in a batch of 60 petitions challenging various aspects of the Amendment, is due to hear the matter later this month, on January 22.
[Read the Notification]