The Union Cabinet has cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there.
The cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The announcement was made soon after by Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar. The bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, will now be introduced in the Parliament during the current winter session.
What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)?
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It is aimed at providing citizenship to six communities, that are Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis.
Along with the abrogation of article 370, the CAB was one of the prime agendas on the BJP manifesto in the 2019 elections.
During the party parliamentarians meeting yesterday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh, had also hinted at the bill being placed soon. He had asked party MPs to be present in large numbers when the bill is placed in both houses of the parliament.
CAB 2019 proposes a cut-off date of December 31, 2014. However officials have said that there could be changes to the cut-off date of December 31, 2014 in the fresh bill.
Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Left are among parties who have opposed the Bill. NDA has the majority in the Lok Sabha and hence getting the bill passed here may be easy for them. The actual test will be in the Upper House, where the NDA is in majority.
The opposition parties have argued that the Constitution does not allow granting of citizenship on the basis of religion.
In Assam, there were concerns that the CAB will nullify the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.
In Mizoram, there is has been opposition because the amendment would make Buddhist Chakma refugees Indian citizens.
Home minister Amit Shah has been meeting important stakeholders for some time now and is slated to meet others soon too.
The CAB was passed by the Lok Sabha in the previous term of the BJP-led government but it lapsed following the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and wasn’t introduced in the Rajya Sabha.