The Great Indian ‘CAB’cophony

The Cabinet has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019 and its introduction is awaited in either houses of the Parliament any day now. The government expects and believes that the bill will be passed by the Parliament (both houses) by December 10. The opposition is unlikely to allow smooth sailing of the amendment that seriously alters the fundamentals of Indian citizenship
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In all the pandemonium surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Bill, specially with widespread protests in the north-east region of the country, the Cabinet has reportedly, cleared the new Citizenship Amendment Bill today. 

The government expects CAB to be passed by the Parliament before December 10. The Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, has asked all BJP MPs to ensure that they remain present in the House when the Home Minster, Amit Shah take it up in the Parliament, to ensure it gets maximum votes for getting passed.

About the bill

The Bill proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.This was proposed to be done by inserting a new proviso to Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act 1955.As per PTI, the bill is likely to be tabled in the Parliament in the next two days.

The Citizenship Act as it exists today does not recognize claims of illegal migrants for Indian citizenship. The bill which was introduced in January proposed to relax the condition for acquiring citizenship by naturalization for non-Muslim migrants from the aforementioned countries. It proposed that the requisite period of 11 years of residence in the country be reduced to 6 years for these migrants, by inserting a proviso clause (d) in the Third Schedule of the Act.

Bill redrafted

The bill’s former version of was passed by Lok Sabha in January this year but the bill lapsed as the Lok Sabha dissolved due to forthcoming General elections. Hence, it was expected that there may be changes in the bill especially considering the protests around the bill in the north-east.

Recently it was reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had invited the Chief Ministers of north-eastern States and leaders of socio-cultural bodies, students’ organisations and political parties for discussions on the plan to amend the Citizenship Act. These discussions took place on November 29 and November 30.

At this meeting, Amit Shah agreed to make some changes in the bill and assuredcivil society groups and political representatives that ethno-cultural concerns of all stakeholders in the North-East would be addressed, and that the Bill would provide protection to such regions and states where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is applicable, and autonomous administration has been granted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The Defence Minister’s ‘defence’

Rajnath Singh is reportedly defending the contentious bill by saying that BJP has always worked to unite the nation and has rejected criticism that the bill is against principles of secularism as enshrined in the Preamble of our Constitution. Rajnath Singh has said that the countries — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — are predominantly Islamic nations and India wants to offer citizenship to those who face religious persecution there.

All these defences are invalid because all the contentions raised by the opposition parties hold true as the bill does in fact and in spirit abrogate the principles of secularism as enshrined in our Constitution and it does reek of the pro Hindutva mandate of the ruling party. One can only hope that an anti-secular bill such as this, meets with heavy opposition in the Rajya Sabha to the least, where the NDA is in minority and some necessary changes are made to it. Or it is stalled altogether. 


In the wake of protests in NE, MHA calls meeting with stakeholders
Union Cabinet Clears Citizenship Amendment Bill
Why Opp MPs Strongly Dissented against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 and How
Anti-NRC sentiment now turns to target NPR: Bengal
Assam simmers over CAB, protests spill over to Manipur too
AAMSU expresses concerns on all India NRC, CAB and clause 6 of Assam Accord




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