CIVIL

THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL 2019

Bill No. 370 of 2019

AS INTRODUCED IN LOK SABHA

THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019

A
BILL

further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Seventieth Year of the Republic of India as  follows:—

1. (1) This Act may be called the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, appoint.

2. In the Citizenship Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), in section 2, in sub-section (1), in clause (b), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—

“Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or
Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into
India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the
Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the
Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the
Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as
illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;”.

3. After section 6A of the principal Act, the following section shall be inserted, namely:—

‘6B. (1) The Central Government or an authority specified by it in this behalf may, subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be prescribed, on an application made in this behalf, grant a certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation to a person referred to in the proviso to clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 2.

(2) Subject to fulfilment of the conditions specified in section 5 or the qualifications for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule, a person granted the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation under sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be a citizen of India from the date of his entry into India.

(3) On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him:

Provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending against him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this behalf shall not reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found qualified for grant of citizenship under this section:

Provided further that the person who makes the application for citizenship under this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such application.

(4) Nothing in this section shall apply to 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.’

4. In section 7D of the principal Act,—

(i) after clause (d), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—

“(da) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has violated any of the provisions of this Act or provisions of any other law for time being in force as may be specified by the Central Government in the notification published in the Official Gazette; or”.

(ii) after clause (f), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—

“Provided that no order under this section shall be passed unless the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.”.

5. In section 18 of the principal Act, in sub-section (2), after clause (ee), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—

“(eei) the conditions, restrictions and manner for granting certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation under sub-section (1) of section 6B;”.

6. In the Third Schedule to the principal Act, in clause (d), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—

‘Provided that for the person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period of residence or service of Government in India as required under this clause shall be read as “not less than five years” in place of “not less than eleven years”.’.

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

The Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955) was enacted to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship.

2. It is a historical fact that trans-border migration of population has been happening continuously between the territories of India and the areas presently comprised in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in the said areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh when India was partitioned in 1947. The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries. Some of them also have fears about such persecution in their day-to-day life where right to practice, profess and propagate their religion has been obstructed and restricted. Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.

3. Under the existing provisions of the Act, migrants from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh who entered into India without valid travel documents or if the validity of their documents has expired are regarded as illegal migrants and ineligible to apply for Indian citizenship under section 5 or section 6 of the Act.

4. The Central Government exempted the said migrants from the adverse penal consequences of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946 and rules or orders made thereunder vide notifications, dated 07.09.2015 and dated 18.07.2016. Subsequently, the Central Government also made them eligible for long term visa to stay in India, vide, orders dated 08.01.2016 and 14.09.2016. Now, it is proposed to make the said migrants eligible for Indian Citizenship.

5. The illegal migrants who have entered into India up to the cut of date of 31.12.2014 need a special regime to govern their citizenship matters. For this purpose the Central Government or an authority specified by it, shall grant the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be prescribed. Since many of them have entered into India long back, they may be given the citizenship of India from the date of their entry in India if they fulfil conditions for Indian citizenship specified in section 5 or the qualifications for the naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule to the Act.

6. The Bill further seeks to grant immunity to the migrant of the aforesaid Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities so that any proceedings against them regarding in respect of their status of migration or citizenship does not bar them from applying for Indian citizenship. The competent authority, to be prescribed under the Act, shall not take into account any proceedings initiated against such persons regarding their status as illegal migrant or their citizenship matter while considering their application under section 5 or section 6 of the Act, if they fulfil all the conditions for grant of citizenship.

7. Many persons of Indian origin including persons belonging to the said minority communities from the aforesaid countries have been applying for citizenship under section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 but they are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin. Hence, they are forced to apply for citizenship by naturalisation under section 6 of the said Act, which, inter alia, prescribe twelve years residency as a qualification for naturalisation in terms of the Third Schedule to the Act. This denies them many opportunities and advantages that may accrue only to the citizens of India, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently. Therefore, it is proposed to amend the Third Schedule to the Act to make applicants belonging to the said communities from the aforesaid countries eligible for citizenship by naturalisation if they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of the existing eleven years.

8. Presently, there is no specific provision in section 7D of the Act to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder who violates any provisions of the Act or any other law for the time being in force. It is also proposed to amend the said section 7D so as to empower the Central Government to cancel registration as Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder in case of violation of any provisions of the Act or any other law for the time being in force.

9. Since there is no specific provision in the Act at present to provide an opportunity of being heard to the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder before cancellation of the Overseas Citizen of India Card under section 7D, it is proposed to provide the opportunity of being heard to the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder before the cancellation of the Overseas Citizen of India Card.

10. The Bill further seeks to protect the constitutional guarantee given to indigenous populations of North Eastern States covered under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the statutory protection given to areas covered under “The Inner Line” system of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

11. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.

NEW DELHI; AMIT SHAH.

The 4th December, 2019.

MEMORANDUM REGARDING DELEGATED LEGISLATION

Clause 5 of the Bill seeks to insert a new clause (eei) in sub-section (2) of section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 so as to empower the Central Government to make rules to provide the conditions, restrictions and manner for granting certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation under sub-section (1) of section 6B of the said Act.

2. The matters in respect of which the aforementioned rules may be made are matters of procedure and it is not practicable to provide for them in the Bill itself. The delegation of legislative power is, therefore, of a normal character.

(Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs)

MGIPMRND—4109LS(S3)—06-12-2019.

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