The Ministry of Home Affairs seems to have set the ball rolling on its most controversial and anti-constitutional piece of legislation, the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. On May 28, the Ministry has issued a notification while exercising its powers under section 16 of the Citizenship Act, effectively inviting applications for Indian citizenship from persons from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan belonging to minority communities i.e., Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
The MHA has extended its powers under section 5 of Citizenship Act of registering as a citizen and under section 6 of granting certificate of naturalisation to the District Collector of :
(i) Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in the State of Gujarat ;
(ii) Durg and Balodabazar in the State of Chhattisgarh ;
(iii) Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in the State of Rajasthan ;
(iv) Faridabad in the State of Haryana ; and
(v) Jalandhar in the State of Punjab
Further, the powers have also been extended to the Secretary of the Department of Home of the States of Haryana and Punjab within whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily resident.
The notification also sets out procedures for application and eventual verification. The applicant belonging to a minority community as deemed by the Citizenship Act and hailing from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh has to apply for citizenship online and the verification of this application shall be done by the Collector at district level or the Secretary at the state level. These applications and reports are to be made accessible simultaneously to the Central Government on an online portal.
The Collector or Secretary is required to make such inquiry as deemed necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant which may include forwarding the application to such agencies for verification and comments as may be required. The notification states that the instructions issued by the central government from time to time in this regard shall be strictly complied with.
The Collector or Secretary is empowered to grant citizenship to the applicant on being satisfied with his suitability. This citizenship will be by registration or naturalisation and certificate of registration or naturalisation will be accordingly issued.
The Collector or Secretary is required to maintain an online as well as physical register containing the details of the person so registered or naturalised as a citizen of India and furnish a copy of the same within 7 days.
At a time when the country has not shown any significant signs of recovering from a major pandemic crisis, the very fact that the home ministry is bent upon implementing its discriminating law which had sparked outrage among the larger public and had forced them to take to the streets bodes ill for future policy intents and initiatives. It appears that divisive politics will continue to override all other concerns of the Modi 2.0 regime. While several of the young protestors have been put behind bars and others continue to languish under the guise of having conspired the Delhi violence of February 2020, the MHA’s move to go ahead and implement the law is not just brazen but a flagrant violation of any commitment to dissent within a democracy.
The notification may be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India