CAA to Be Implemented After Completion of Covid Vaccination Drive?
On Tuesday, Suvendu Adhikari, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from West Bengal, told media persons that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019 would be implemented after completion of the nationwide round of delivering booster shots of the Covid vaccine. He claimed Union Home Minister Amit Shah had told him as much.
Adhikari met with Shah on Tuesday and was quoted by Hindustan Times thereafter, as saying, “He (Amit Shah) also assured me of the implementation of CAA. But the country is facing some challenges related to Covid. Therefore, it will be done once the booster dose drive is over.”
Readers would recall that the CAA was passed by both houses of the Parliament on December 11, 2019, and it received Presidential assent on December 12, 2019. In January 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the Act and said that it would come into force from January 10 that year. However, the rules required to implement the Act are yet to be framed.
The CAA allows granting of Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities i.e Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The passage of the Act had led to widespread nationwide protests and an equally widespread crackdown on protesters by authorities. According to Adhikari, Shah suggested that the rules could be framed once the third precautionary dose is administered to all people.
Shah had himself announced at a rally in Jalpaiguri on May 5, 2022, that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has falsely claimed that the CAA will not be implemented. He referred to an earlier claim by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the Act had lapsed. “Let the pandemic be over, and we will bring CAA,” Shah had been quoted by the Times of India at the time.
It is noteworthy that as per the Manual on Parliamentary Work, in case the Ministries are not able to frame the rules within the prescribed period of six months after a legislation is passed, “they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension” which cannot be more than three months at a time. One such Committee is in each house - Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and the MHA has to seek extension from both at the same time. The MHA has been granted repeated extensions since June 2020, the most recent being in April 2022.
It is noteworthy, that the MHA in a written submission before the Lok Sabha on February 8, 2022, i.e, during the Budget Session of the Parliament, did reveal that Indian Citizenship had been granted to 4,844 people since 2017. Of these, 1,773 people were granted Indian citizenship in 2021 alone.
As far as Covid vaccination figures go, despite a robust nationwide campaign and even offering free vaccination to certain sections of eligible people in government hospitals, an estimated four crore eligible Indians have not been administered even one dose of the Covid vaccine. In a written submission before the Lok Sabha Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, who is the Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said, “As on 18th July, an estimated 4 crore eligible beneficiaries have not taken even a single dose of Covid vaccine.”
She elaborated, “As on 18th July 2022, a total of 92,61,72,661 beneficiaries (87.4%) have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 1,78,38,52,566 vaccine doses (97.34%) have been administered free of cost in Government Covid Vaccination Centers.”
All persons who are 12 years and above are eligible for vaccination under the Covid vaccination programme. When it comes to the precaution dose, the ministry has submitted, “Precaution dose is available free of cost to Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all beneficiaries above 60 years of age, from 16th March 2022 in Government CVCs and for 18-59 years age group from 10th April 2022 in Private CVCs. From 15th July under the “Covid Vaccination Amrit Mahotsava” initiative the precaution dose is available free of cost to all beneficiaries ≥18 years of age at all Government CVCs after an interval of 6 months from 2nd dose administration.”
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