Citizenship and Related Issues

CAA Implementation within a Week


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAA

Mains level : Read the attached story


Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019: Key Provisions

  • Basic idea: CAA, 2019, aims to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian citizenship to specific categories of illegal migrants.
  • Eligible Religions: CAA targets Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, making them eligible for Indian citizenship.
  • Objective: The primary objective is to facilitate citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighboring countries.
  • Residence Requirement: The Citizenship Act, 1955, normally requires 11 of the previous 14 years of residence in India as a condition for naturalization.
  • Amendment: CAA reduces this requirement to 6 years for applicants belonging to the specified religions and countries.
  • Exemption from Criminal Cases: Members of the designated communities are exempted from criminal cases under the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Passport Act, 1920, if they entered India before December 31, 2014.

Defining Illegal Migrants

  • Status Under Present Laws: Existing laws prohibit illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship.
  • CAA’s Definition: CAA classifies an illegal migrant as a foreigner who enters India without valid travel documents (passport and visa) or overstays beyond the allowed period.
  • Penalties: Illegal migrants can face imprisonment or deportation under the Foreigners Act, 1946, and The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.

Exceptions under CAA

  • Conditions for Exemption: CAA outlines four conditions that, if met, exempt certain individuals from being treated as illegal migrants:
    1. They belong to the specified religions (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian).
    2. They hail from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan.
    3. They entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
    4. They are not in certain tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura (Sixth Schedule) or “Inner Line” permit areas (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland).

Controversies Surrounding CAA

  • Country of Origin: CAA categorizes migrants based on their country of origin, specifically Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
  • Religious Exclusivity: It raises questions about why only six specified religious minorities have been considered in the Act.
  • Omission of Rohingya: The Act doesn’t address the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who have faced persecution.
  • Entry Date Differentiation: The differential treatment of migrants based on their entry date, i.e., before or after December 31, 2014, has generated debate.
  • Secularism Concerns: Critics argue that granting citizenship based on religion contradicts the secular principles of India’s Constitution, considered part of the unalterable basic structure.

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