The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought yet another extension to frame the rules of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). The legislation that fast-tracks citizenship to non-Muslim undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh has been ineffective since its passage in Parliament four years ago.
The Ministry has written to the parliament committee on subordinate legislation in the Lok Sabha, seeking time till end of September to frame CAA rules, a government official said, adding that the committee had granted the extension. This is the eighth extension sought by the government. The last such request was made by the MHA in January to extend the deadline till June 30.
The Act was passed on December 11, 2019, receiving assent from the President on December 12 the same year. The MHA has notified that the Act will come into force from January 10, 2020.
The Manual on Parliamentary Work says that if a Ministry is not able to frame the rules governing 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 seeks to grant citizenship to members of Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Buddhist and Jain communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India before December 31, 2014 without any document. It exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport Act, 1920 which specify punishment for entering the country illegally and staying on expired visas and permits.
Most parts of the northeast are exempted from the CAA. The tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur are exempted from provisions of the CAA.
As many as 83 persons were killed in protests and riots from December 2019-March 2020 in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Delhi after the CAA was passed.