The Union Home Ministry has sought another extension of six months to frame the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), without which it cannot be implemented. This is the seventh such extension sought by the Ministry.
The Act, which was passed in 2019, fast tracks the citizenship of people from the Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Buddhist and Jain communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India before December 31, 2014, without any documents.
On November 24, at a media conclave organised by a news channel, Home Minister Amit Shah said the rules of the Act were under construction and there were some delays due to the pandemic.
“CAA is a law of the land and those who are dreaming that CAA won’t be implemented are mistaken, it will be implemented,” the Minister said.
Most parts of the northeastern States are exempted from the Act. The tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur are exempted from provisions of the Act. The undocumented migrants who will be deemed Indian citizens through the Act will not be able to settle down in the exempted areas.
The legislation is contentious issue in West Bengal too. The Act is aimed at giving citizenship to the Matua community in West Bengal who trace their origins to present day Bangladesh. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has opposed the legislation saying it was a bid to divide the State as Matuas vote in all elections and are very much citizens of India.
A senior government official told The Hindu that the Ministry had sought an extension of six months from the subordinate committee on parliamentary legislation in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
While the Rajya Sabha committee has accepted the Ministry’s request to grant the extension till June 30, a reply from the Lok Sabha committee is awaited.
Earlier, the Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha committee that it needs time till December 31, 2022 to frame the rules, while it sought time till January 9, 2023 from the Lok Sabha committee.
The Manual on Parliamentary Work says that if a Ministry is not able to frame the rules governing a legislation within the prescribed period of six months after the law is passed, “they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension”.
The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019, and it received assent from the President on December 12 the same year. The Ministry notified that the Act would come into force from January 10, 2020. However, the rules have not been notified, making the legislation ineffective on the ground.
The CAA exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under Foreigners Act, 1946 and Passport Act, 1920, which specify punishment for entering the country illegally and staying on expired visas and permits.
As many as 83 persons were killed in protest and riots between December 2019 and March 2020 in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Delhi after the CAA was passed.