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Union Cabinet Clears Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Bill now expected to be introduced in Lok Sabha next week

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The Union Cabinet cleared the much-talked about Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, December 4, which will now be presented on the Lok Sabha next week for its approval. The new bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The bill provides nationality to six communities i.e. Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists fleeing oppression from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become citizens of India. It also compensates the Citizenship Act,1955 to make illegal migrants in the select categories eligible for citizenship.

Two days before giving a green signal to the Citizenship Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah set the deadline for the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country.

Ahead of assembly elections, Shah focused on removing all the infiltrators before the next Lok Sabha elections which will be held in 2024 while addressing a public rally in Jharkhand.

Proceeding to the clearance of the bill, opposition party leaders expressed their concerns via tweets.

Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor criticised the idea of non-secular India and called it a “fundamentally unconstitutional”. while former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter termed it as “India- No country for Muslims, ” as posted on the Peoples Democratic Party chief’s twitter handle.

What does the bill say?

Among several important points, the proposed bill considerably eases the conditions required to become an Indian citizen as laid out in the Citizenship Act of 1955. It seeks to nearly half—from 11 years to 6 years—the period required to stay in India for claiming citizenship, even after illegally entering India.

The bill also seeks to overhaul the definition of “illegal immigrants”, purely on the basis of religion. The Bill also seeks to override many rules of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.

Once passed in the Parliament, it would be clear that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India on or before 31 December, 2014 will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India even if found to be living without valid documents.

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