Citizenship Amendment Act rules notified, four years after the law was passed

The rules state that the applicants will have to provide six types of documents and specify “date of entry” in India

Updated - March 12, 2024 12:14 am IST

Published - March 11, 2024 06:17 pm IST

BJP workers celebrate after the central government notified the rules for implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Varanasi, on March 11, 2024. 

BJP workers celebrate after the central government notified the rules for implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Varanasi, on March 11, 2024.  | Photo Credit: PTI

Just days ahead of the announcement of general elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on March 11 notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules, 2024 that would enable the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Parliament in 2019.

Though the legislation facilitates citizenship to undocumented people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian and Jain community from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the rules state that the applicants will have to provide six types of documents and specify “date of entry” in India.

The Act was passed on December 11, 2019, receiving assent from the President on December 12 the same year. The MHA had earlier notified that the Act will come into force from January 10, 2020. Since the rules were not framed yet, the Act could not be implemented. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah posted on X, “These rules will now enable minorities persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to acquire citizenship in our nation. With this notification PM Shri @narendramodi Ji has delivered on another commitment and realised the promise of the makers of our constitution to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians living in those countries.”

Understanding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 

The list of permissible documents include birth certificate, tenancy records, identity papers, any licence, school or educational certificate issued by a government authority in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The applicants will have to produce an “eligibility certificate” issued by a “locally reputed community institution” confirming that he/she belongs to “Hindu/ Sikh/ Buddhist/ Jain/ Parsi/ Christian community and continues to be a member of the above mentioned community.”

The users will have to register on the portal and a mobile application CAA-2019 has also been readied. All documents along with photographs are to be uploaded online and the applications will be processed after a background check by security agencies. 

Online process

The plea for citizenship will be online and an empowered committee, through a district-level committee, will scrutinise all applications. The empowered committee will be headed by the Director (Census Operations) in each State, and will include officers from the Intelligence Bureau, Post Master General, State or National Informatics Centre and a representative each from the Department of Home and Divisional Railway Manager will be the invitees.

Click here to know more about CAA

The district-level committee will be headed by the Senior Superintendent or Superintendent of Post.

The applicants are also required to provide evidence of the date of birth of the parents such as a copy of the passport or birth certificate. “In case of non-availability of passport of mother/ father, birth certificate of the applicant clearly indicating the name, address and nationality of mother/ father” is to be submitted.

Does the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill go against Article 14 of the Constitution? 

Since the cut-off date for CAA is December 31, 2014, to prove that the applicant seeking citizenship under Section 6B of CAA, 2019 entered India before the particular date will have to provide another set of documents such as copy of passport, visa, slip issued by Census enumerators, PAN card, electricity bill, insurance policy. The rule says that the “documents should have been issued by an Indian authority and will be admissible even beyond their validity period.”

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.

The rules add that the applicant will have to appear in person to subscribe the application and take oath of allegiance, failing which the district-level committee may recommend refusal.

Explained | CAA protests: What does the law say about detention of minors? 

For those applying for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule will have to submit an affidavit verifying the correctness of the statements made in the application along with an affidavit from an Indian citizen testifying the character of the applicant. “A declaration is required from the applicant that he has adequate knowledge of one of the languages as specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution,” the rules said, with an explanation that adequate knowledge would mean if he or she can speak or read or write that language.

Indian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation or by incorporation of territory.

Most parts of the northeast are exempted from the CAA. 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 provisions of the CAA.

The Home Ministry had sought at least 10 extensions from the parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation to frame the rules.

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