Updated: April 27, 2022 5:40:00 am
Even as notification of rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) remains pending for over two years, the government has said the legislation is “compassionate and ameliorative” and does not deprive any Indian of citizenship.
“The CAA is a limited and narrowly tailored legislation which seeks to provide a relaxation to aforesaid specific communities from the specified countries with a clear cut-off date. It is a compassionate and ameliorative legislation,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said in its latest annual report for 2020-21.
“The CAA does not apply to Indian citizens. Therefore, it does not in any way take away or abridge the rights of any Indian citizen. Further, the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category as provided in the Citizenship Act-1955 is very much operational and the CAA does not amend or alter this legal position in any manner whatsoever. Hence, legal migrants of any religion from any country will continue to get Indian citizenship once they fulfil the eligibility conditions already provided in the law for registration or naturalisation,” it has said.
The CAA, which aims to give citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, was notified on December 12, 2019, and came into force on January 10, 2020. The legislation evoked widespread protests across the country as read with government’s plan to conduct nationwide National Register of Citizen (NRC) enumeration, it was perceived as an attempt to deprive Muslims of Indian citizenship.
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The notification of its rules, without which the law cannot be implemented, continues to be pending with no commitment from the government as to when it will happen.
The annual report has attempted to once again allay fears in the Northeast over the legislation saying that exclusion of areas under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and those covered under the Inner Line Permit regime would ensure protection of indigenous and tribal populations of the region.
The report said between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, 3,014 and 217 cases of Long Term Visa (LTV) have been disposed of by the MHA for minority communities from Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively. During the same period, one case of LTV for minority community from Bangladesh was also disposed of by the MHA, even as a total of 412 Citizenship Certificates were granted by various competent authorities (MHA plus authorities delegated powers of the Central government in seven states and 16 districts) to foreigners under the provisions of The Citizenship Act- 1955, it said.
During the period, four Pakistani civil prisoners and 20 Pakistani fishermen, who had completed their sentences, were repatriated to Pakistan, while nine Indian civil prisoners were repatriated by Pakistan to India.
According to the report, as many as 32,79,315 foreigners (including 4,751 Pakistani nationals) visited India during the period despite a raging pandemic. The maximum number of foreigners who visited India during this period were from the United States of America (61,190) followed by those from Bangladesh (37,774), United Kingdom (33,323), Canada (13,707), Portugal (11,668), Afghanistan (11,212), Germany (8,438), France (8,353), Iraq (7,163) and Republic of Korea (6,129).
“These 10 countries accounted for 71.23% of the total arrival of foreigners during the period …owing to the situation arising out of Covid-19 pandemic and in order to control its spread, the MHA took a series of steps to curtail the inward/outward movement of international passengers (both foreigners as well as Indians) in a calibrated manner since February, 2020. However, with the phased unlocking in India, the Central government has been relaxing the visa and travel restrictions in a phased manner since May, 2020,” the report said.
According to the report, as many as 258 foreigners were deported by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) during the period. Most of the deported foreigners belonged to Bangladesh (113), followed by Afghanistan (33) and Kyrgyzstan (22).
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