Updated: June 15, 2021 7:07:18 am
The Centre’s affidavit before the Supreme Court explaining its May 28 notification — to delegate to local authorities its power of granting citizenship to members of the minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — refers to how senior Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had time and again urged the Centre to make similar delegations in the past and how the government acceded to the requests.
On March 6, 2002, Gehlot, who was the then CM of Rajasthan, “after considering the representation of refugees/displaced persons belonging to minority communities of Pakistan”, requested Deputy PM and Home Minister L K Advani “to issue statutory instructions” such as “delegation of powers to SDM etc. to resolve the difficulties faced by Pakistan Hindu minority migrants for grant of visa and citizenship”, said the affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA.
“The letter specifically” dealt “with the issue that most of these hapless migrants belong to Scheduled Castes (SCs) of Hindus and that the National Commission for SCs and STs in its meeting held on July 19, 2001, discussed this matter in detail so that these migrants can be granted Indian citizenship expeditiously,” read the affidavit.
On February 4, 2004, BJP leader and CM Vasundhara Raje requested MoS (Home) Harin Pathak to resolve the issue of grant of Indian citizenship to migrants of minority communities of Pakistan who have migrated to India due to “persecution on religious grounds”.
On March 1, 2004, the Centre came out with the notification delegating power to grant citizenship through registration mode to District Collectors of Rajasthan and four Districts Collectors of Gujarat and to the Gujarat government for other districts in the state.
On July 13, 2004, MLA Gehlot again requested MoS (Home) Sriprakash Jaiswal to consider delegation of powers to collectors. Gehlot, as All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary, also urged Home Minister Shivraj Patil on September 15, 2004 to implement the March 1, 2004 notification, the affidavit said.
On October 12, 2004, Jaiswal had replied to MLA Gehlot’s letter regarding delegation of special powers to the collectors of some districts in Rajasthan and Gujarat for grant of citizenship to Hindu migrants of Indo-Pak wars living illegally in those areas. The minister replied that appropriate notifications to amend the Citizenship Rules, 1956, have been issued.
On December 10, 2004, Gehlot again requested Patil to waive all kinds of fees for visa extension and grant of citizenship for such migrants.
On April 8, 2009, Gehlot, as Rajasthan CM, again wrote to the Union Home Minister regarding “outstanding issues of large number of Pak oustees from Hindu/Sikh communities”.
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