The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) concerns FOREIGNERS; the National Register of Citizens (NRC) concerns all INDIAN citizens.
All you need to know about the Citizenship (Amendment Act) 2019 and its application
The CAA does not target any particular religious community from any country.
Every Indian Muslim is guaranteed citizenship and Fundamental Rights under the Indian Constitution and is in no way threatened by the CAA, as it does not apply to them.
If I am an Indian, should I worry about CAA?
No. CAA does not apply to you, and therefore you have nothing to worry. The CAA does not impact or affect any Indian citizen, including Muslims, and therefore, no one should have any fear or doubt regarding any aspect of CAA.
Every Indian citizen enjoys Fundamental Rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution, and no law can take it away.
Who is covered by the CAA?
The CAA applies to migrants who are already present in India and having arrived on or before December 31, 2014, from any one of these three countries:
Most of the migrants were granted Long Term Visa (LTV) before December 31 2014.
Only people of Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Parsi faith who faced religious persecution in the above three countries can apply for Indian citizenship under the CAA, subject to their arrival on or before the date mentioned above.
They can fast track their application for citizenship under the Naturalisation process wherein they will be eligible to apply in 1+5 years instead of the usual 1+11 years applicable to all other migrant categories from other countries.
The CAA does not apply to foreigners from other countries, including Muslims. Their application for Indian citizenship is processed on a case-by-case basis under separate and established laws covered by the Citizenship Act.
Can a Muslim from the above three countries apply for Indian citizenship?
Yes, they can. Muslims or people of any other faith and from any country can apply for Indian citizenship through any of the following processes:
- Birth: As per Section 3 of the Citizenship Act
- Descent: As per Section 4 of the Citizenship Act
- Naturalisation: As per Section 6 of the Citizenship Act
- Registration: As per Section 5 of the Citizenship Act
Has India granted Citizenship to Muslims from other countries?
Yes. The border territory agreement between Indian and Bangladesh resulted in fifty Bangladesh enclaves incorporated into India. As a result, India granted Indian citizenship to 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens, many of whom were Muslims.
Furthermore, since 2014, India has granted citizenships to:
- 2,830 Pakistani citizens
- 912 Afghan citizens
- 172 Bangladesh citizens
- Many of the above are Muslims.
Article 6 of the Indian Constitution allows for citizens of Pakistan who arrived on or before July 19, 1948, to apply for Indian citizenship.
There are cases where citizens from Pakistan who arrived after July 19, 1948, were granted Indian citizenship after six months of arrival.
Under CAA, can Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan be deported?
No, they can’t be deported under CAA.
The process of deportation can only take place under these two laws:
- Foreigners Act, 1946
- The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920
The process granting permission of entry, duration of stay, and exit from the country, is governed by the two Acts and does not discriminate against Muslims or any other religion and applies to all foreigners.
Assam, which faces the biggest problem of illegal migration, identifies ‘foreigners’ as defined under the two mentioned Acts before proceeding to deport illegal migrants.
What about Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka?
Two accords have been signed between India and Sri Lanka in 1964 and 1974, respectively. Under the agreements, India granted citizenship to 4.61 lakh Tamil refugees of Indian origin from Sri Lanka from 1964 and 2008.
Presently, over 95,000 Sri Lanka Tamil refugees reside in India and can apply for Indian citizenship, on eligibility under established laws of the Citizenship Act.
Why does India deny entry to Burmese citizens, including Rohingya Muslims?
From 1962 to 1978, India allowed over 2 lakh fleeing Burmese citizens to enter India, and they settled in different parts of the country.
India is overburdened by the constant inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, which has continued for decades. To accept the fleeing Rohingya Muslims is an economic and social challenge, especially for frontline states such as Assam and other states of the northeast.
However, even they can apply for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Act as stated above.
How does the CAA protect the tribals and indigenous people of the northeast?
Local tribals and indigenous people in areas covered under the Sixth Schedule and the Inner Permit Line are protected, and migrants living in these areas cannot apply for citizenship under CAA. The Act says:
Nothing in this section shall apply to the tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
What are the rules for citizenship under CAA?
The rules for citizenship under CAA are in the process of being defined and will be notified once approved and passed.
National Register of Citizens (NRC)
CAA and NRC are two separate processes governed by different laws. There is no link between the two. CAA is defined and implemented while the rules and procedures of NRC for pan-India (other than Assam) are yet to be finalised and made into law.
In Assam, NRC has been implemented by the Supreme Court, as per the mandate signed under the Assam Accord.
What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and why is it necessary?
The NRC is the national and official record of all citizens of the country. The registry records the names of all Indian citizens.
Does NRC discriminate against Muslims?
No, the NRC does not discriminate against any religion, including Muslims. The process of registering names of all citizens living outside of Assam is yet to begin, and when it does, it will not be based on any religion. No religion or community will be excluded, nor will it be criteria for inclusion or exclusion from the list.
Every country maintains a database of its citizens, and the NRC is India’s official registry.
How will the government identify who to include as Indian citizens?
The Citizenship Rules, 2009 define the citizenship of a person and are based on the Citizenship Act, 1955. Under it, a person can become an Indian citizen through one of the following:
- Citizenship by birth
- Citizenship by descent
- Citizenship by registration
- Citizenship by naturalisation
- Citizenship by incorporation
What documents will be needed to prove the Indian citizenship?
It must be clarified here that the NRC was carried out in Assam only, as agreed upon under the Assam Accord, to identify illegal migrants in Assam. It was the result of a prolonged agitation in Assam, and the Assam Acord allowed the NRC to be implemented in Assam only.
For the rest of the country, the process of NRC is yet to be finalised, and therefore, there is no clarity on the specific documents to be presented as on this date.
Here are some of the documents which were admissible during the Assam NRC process.
In Assam, there are two requirements for the inclusion of names of any person in updated NRC:
The first requirement is collection of ANY ONE of the following documents of List A issued before midnight of March 24, 1971, where the name of self or ancestor* appears (to prove residence in Assam up to midnight of March 24, 1971).
- 1951 NRC OR
- Electoral Roll(s) up to March 24 1971 (midnight) OR
- Land & Tenancy Records OR
- Citizenship Certificate OR
- Permanent Residential Certificate OR
- Refugee Registration Certificate OR
- Passport OR
- LIC OR
- Any Govt. issued License/Certificate OR
- Govt. Service/ Employment Certificate OR
- Bank/Post Office Accounts OR
- Birth Certificate OR
- Board/University Educational Certificate OR
- Court Records/Processes.
Further, two other documents viz
- Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in respect of married women migrating after marriage (can be of any year before or after March 24 (midnight) 1971), and
- Ration Card issued up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, can be adduced as supporting documents.
However, these two documents shall be accepted only if accompanied by anyone of the documents listed above.
The second requirement arises if the name in any of the documents of List A is not of the applicant himself/herself but that of an ancestor, namely, father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother (and so on) of the applicant. In such cases, the applicant shall have to submit documents as in List B below to establish a relationship with such ancestor, i.e., father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother etc. whose name appears in List A. Such documents shall have to be legally acceptable document which proves such relationship.
- Birth Certificate OR
- Land document OR
- Board/University Certificate OR
- Bank/LIC/Post Office records OR
- Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in case of married women OR
- Electoral Roll OR
- Ration Card OR
- Any other legally acceptable document
Why are people fearing the NRC, and why is it controversial?
There is absolutely no reason to fear NRC since it is yet to finalise. The recent controversy and fears over NRC generated were an outcome of the recent legal judgments of cases on NRC in Assam.
For the pan-India NRC, the government is planning to make the process simpler and easy for people’s names to be included in the registry.
At present, under the Citizenship Act, 1955 anyone born in India on or after January 26, 1950, up till July 1 1987, is deemed an Indian citizen by birth.
Those born on or after July 1, 1987, but before the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, will be deemed Indian citizens subject to either parent being an Indian citizen at the time of the child’s birth.
Those born after the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, will be deemed Indian citizens if both parents are Indian citizens at the time of the child’s birth.
The CAA and NRC are unrelated.
CAA applies to migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan only and covers people of Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Parsi faith.
Muslims from these countries can apply for Indian citizenship under laws covered under the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.
All citizens of all other countries, irrespective of religion, can apply for Indian citizenship as per laws under the above two mentioned Acts.
NRC is a process to register and record the names of Indian citizens.
NRC does not discriminate against any Indian citizen or faith.
The process of NRC for pan-India (excluding Assam) is yet to finalise.