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Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

Why is it in the news?

  • More than four years after its passage, the Ministry of Home Affairs has notified the Rules for implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.


More about the news

  • Passed in December 2019, the CAA seeks to grant citizenship to migrants from specific religious communities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian) from Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh who entered India before December 31, 2014.
  • The law faced widespread protests across the country, particularly in Assam, where concerns over demographic changes and indigenous rights were prominent.
  • Various individuals, political figures, and organizations challenged the CAA in the Supreme Court, citing violations of constitutional principles.
  • While initial hearings were scheduled for December 2022, the case has not been heard since then.
  • The case is currently listed before a Bench headed by Justice Pankaj Mithal, awaiting further hearings and deliberations.


Issues related to CAA


Violation of Right to Equality:

  • Central to the legal challenge is the contention that the CAA infringes upon Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination.
  • Critics argue that the use of religion as a criterion for citizenship eligibility contradicts the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination.


Constitutional Scrutiny and Reasonable Classification:

  • The Supreme Court must evaluate whether the classification of migrants based on religion as “persecuted minorities” is a reasonable differentiation under Article 14.
  • The government justifies the exclusion of Muslims by citing their majority status in the countries mentioned, but this reasoning faces scrutiny regarding its constitutionality.


Arbitrariness and Secularism Concerns:

  • The legality of the CAA could be challenged on grounds of arbitrariness, akin to recent judicial decisions, such as the striking down of the electoral bonds scheme.
  • The inclusion of religious criteria for citizenship eligibility raises broader concerns about secularism, a fundamental principle of the Indian Constitution.


Impact on Assam Accord and Section 6A:

  • Section 6A of The Citizenship Act, 1955, tied to the Assam Accord, allows migrants in Assam before March 25, 1971, to seek citizenship.
  • Potential conflicts arise between the effective cut-off date under the Assam Accord and the provisions of the CAA, necessitating legal clarification and resolution.

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