The Centre notified the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Friday. The notification comes nearly a month after Parliament passed it on December 11, and in the wake of sustained anti-CAA protests. The Supreme Court is set to hear petitions challenging the constitutionality of the law on January 22.
The Centre, by notifying the law, has indicated its resolve to implement it even as lawyers and retired judges, Opposition parties, activists, students and retired bureaucrats have criticised it as unconstitutional as it discriminates on the basis of religion.
Home Minister Amit Shah’s statements in Parliament that CAA would be followed by the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have led to misgivings in large sections of the society, particularly Muslims, that they might lose citizenship and sent to detention camps. Kerala and West Bengal have said they would not implement the NPR, with other non-BJP ruled states also expressing reservations, which could sour Centre-state relations.
In recent weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah have said there are no plans to bring in NRC, and that no detention camps have come up. But protests have continued with over 30 people killed, mostly Muslims, across India, including at least 20 in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
The law has amended the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955 to provide for Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian migrants who have come to India until December 31, 2014, because of religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It does not provide for citizenship to Muslims. It has also brought down the period of naturalisation for such migrants from 12 years to six years.
The Act is not applicable to the tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura and all other areas of the Northeast covered under the ‘inner line permit’.
It also provides for cancellation of the Overseas Citizen of India status of any non-resident Indian if they are found to violate any law.