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Citizenship Bill

Topics covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Citizenship Bill

 

What to study

  • For prelims: Key features of the Bill, what is Assam Accord?
  • For main: controversy and issues surrounding, how the bill seeks to affect the interests of indigenous people?

 

 

Context: The citizenship Bill does not require any changes if Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is implemented properly, says Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. If Clause 6 is implemented in letter and spirit, then the indigenous people of Assam are well guarded and protected.

 

 

What does Clause 6 say?

 

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 after the Assam Agitation of 1979-85, envisages that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards should be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the people of Assam.

 

 

What is Assam Accord?

 

The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.

 

The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after. As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years.

 

The Accord also mentions that the international borders will be sealed and all persons who crossed over from Bangladesh after 1971 are to be deported. Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering.

 

WHAT IS THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2016?

 

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. In other words, it amends the Citizenship Act of 1955.

 

The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

 

 

 

WHAT DOES IT WANT?

 

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.
  • It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.
  • The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

Mains Question: 4) Critically analyse various criticisms made against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.