Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Union Home Ministry on Monday notified the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and officially released the rules for the same.

The CAA was an integral part of the BJP’s 2019 manifesto. The CAA was enacted by the Parliament in December 2019 amidst large-scale demonstrations. The announcement comes on the back of Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent assertions that the CAA will be implemented before the Lok Sabha elections.

CAA Rules:

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) endeavors to offer Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants. This includes Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians who migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and arrived in India before December 31, 2014. The rules now provide a framework for the application process for those eligible under CAA-2019.

CAA is not applicable to Indian citizens. Its primary objective is to provide Indian citizenship to certain foreigners who have encountered religious persecution in neighboring countries based on their faith. The legislation applies to those "forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion."

The CAA-19 has reduced the residence requirement for the naturalisation of eligible migrants from twelve years to just six. Nearly 30,000 people are likely to benefit from the CAA rules, according to an Intelligence Bureau report on CAA.

Where CAA is not implemented in India?

The CAA will not be implemented in the region mentioned under the Sixth Schedule (Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram) of the Indian Constitution. Areas covered by the Inner Line Permit system (ILP) are also excluded from CAA law. The exclusion would ensure the safeguarding of the interests of the tribal and indigenous communities in the North-Eastern region. People living in this area won't be able to apply for citizenship under CAA-2019.

The Legal Challenge:

The amendment was challenged before the Supreme Court in 2020 by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). Since then, more than 200 petitions have been filed and tagged with the IUML’s challenge. These include petitions from politicians Asaduddin Owaisi, Jairam Ramesh, Ramesh Chennithala, and Mahua Moitra, and political organisations such as the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), National People’s Party (Assam), Muslim Students’ Federation (Assam), and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

The challenge to the CAA rests on the ground that it violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which says that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”. The petitioners’ argue that using religion as a qualifier or a filter violates the fundamental right to equality. They alleged discrimination against Muslims by providing special treatment to the non-Muslims from Muslim countries.

The petitioners have argued that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to identify illegal immigrants, along with the CAA, will result in the targeting of Muslims.

History of CAA:

Soon after the CAA was passed by the Parliament on December 11, 2019, and was notified in the same year, there was a massive protest against the amendment in several parts of the country. Anti-CAA protests began in December 2019 and lasted till nearly February 2020.

The anti-CAA protests began in Assam and spread like fire in other states like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Delhi, etc. Protests from different parts of the country opposed different aspects of the CAA.