One of the most contentious issues that might be taken up for discussion in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament is the Citizenship Amendment Bill. This bill aims at amending The Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian Citizenship of certain community of illegal migrants to India. The Bill was introduced in the year 2016 and was passed by then Lok Sabha. But it was not introduced in the Rajya Sabha and the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha in the month of July 2019. As the Government is mulling to reintroduce the bill, it is pertinent to examine the legality of it from a dispassionate stand point. The discussion in the following paragraph runs on the presumption that there will not be any material altercation in the text of the bill.
The Proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill – Does it violate Article-14 ?
The text of the bill, 2019 which was passed by Lok Sabha on 8-1-2019 (now stands lapsed) intends to amend, inter alia, Section 2 of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 1955 by introducing a proviso to Section 2(1)(b) which read as follows;
“Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c)
Provided further that on and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against any person referred to in 5 the first proviso shall be abated and such person shall be eligible to apply for naturalisation under section 6.”.
The text of this provision is the cause of a major legal debate. Critics say the bill violated the basic structure of the constitution as it is against the principle of Article 14. Continue reading