The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought has asked the parliamentary committee for more time to frame the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), on the grounds that consultation process is on.
The Hindu reported earlier that MHA had sought another extension on January 9 from the parliamentary committees on subordinate legislation in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to frame the rules of the CAA.
Besides the consultation process, MHA said that the construction of the rules had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Without the rules being framed, the Act cannot be implemented.
A senior government official said that MHA stated two grounds for seeking a three-months’ extension to notify the rules — consultation process and COVID-19. A Home Ministry spokesperson did not respond on the delay in framing the rules.
The BJP-led government in Assam had in 2020 requested the MHA to impose a three-month time limit to apply under the CAA, beyond which no one could benefit under the Act, and not keep it “open ended.”
CAA has the provision to grant citizenship to members of six non-Muslim undocumented minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India before December 31, 2014. Several groups in Assam have opposed the CAA as it violates the provision of the 1985 Assam Accord that called for “detection and deportation” of all persons who entered the State from Bangladesh post March 24, 1971. The Supreme Court-monitored Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31 last year, which excluded 19 lakh of the 3.4 crore applicants, was a fallout of the Assam Accord. The final NRC is yet to be implemented in Assam, the only State to have compiled such a register, as rejection slips to those excluded have not been issued by the authorities.
The tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur are exempted from CAA.
The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 and it received assent from the President on December 12. In January, 2020, the Ministry notified that the Act will come into force from January 10, 2020. The Ministry sought time till April 9, 2021 and then July 9, 2021 from the committees to notify the rules which are to be published in the Gazette of India.
As per the Manual on Parliamentary Work, in case the Ministries/Departments are not able to frame the rules within the prescribed period of six months after a legislation is passed, “they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension” which cannot be more than for a period of three months at a time.
Though the exact number of beneficiaries is not known, Home Minister Amit Shah had told the Rajya Sabha on December 11, 2019 that “lakhs and crores” will benefit from CAA.