Indian government notifies Citizenship Amendment Act: Here’s a timeline


Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, India’s Union Home Ministry on Monday notified the rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) — a major highlight of the BJP’s manifesto during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls — paving the way for granting citizenship to people of certain faiths facing persecution in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who moved to India before 2015.

Here is a timeline of the new law:

  • The CAA, passed on December 11, 2019 by Parliament, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955.
  • The CAA facilitates expedited pathways to Indian citizenship for migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, specifically those belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian communities.
  • Eligibility extends to people, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, fleeing religious persecution in their countries of origin.
  • The amendment also relaxed the residence requirement for the naturalisation of these migrants from eleven years to five.
  • The Union Home Minister Amit Shah in 2019 said that the grant of citizenship would be from the date and year of entry into India and all the cases and legal proceedings against them would be closed, besides protecting their business and trade interests on an equal footing.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, 2019, gave his assent, officially constituting it as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
  • Muslim community members held widespread protests in December 2019 across the country following the misunderstanding about the CAA.
  • The protests started in Assam on December 4, 2019, after the bill was introduced in parliament. Protestors stated that the move would cause a loss of their “political rights, culture and land rights” and motivate further migration from Bangladesh.
  • On December 15, 2019, major protests took place near Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi and protesters gathered at the Shaheen Bagh road and sat on a dharna blocking the traffic movement.
  • An FIR was registered by the Delhi Police on December 16, naming seven students as instigators including Asif Iqbal Tanha and Sharjeel Imam.
  • A petition was filed in the Delhi High Court in January 2020 by social activist-advocate Amit Sahni seeking directions to the Delhi Police chief and area DCPs to withdraw the closure of the stretch and the Okhla underpass.
  • A plea was filed in the Supreme Court on February 3, 2020, seeking the removal of Shaheen Bagh protestors, saying they are causing hardship to people by blocking arterial roads connecting Delhi to Noida.
  • Acknowledging that people have a fundamental right to protest, the Supreme Court on February 18, 2020, appointed two senior advocates Sanjay Hedge and Sadhana Ramachandran as interlocutors with the mandate to persuade anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to end their blockade of a public road.
  • The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns suppressed the protests and discussions around the CAA.
  • During Covid-19, the Delhi government on March 16, 2020, announced that any gathering — religious, family, social, political or cultural – of over 50 people will not be allowed.
  • Home Minister Amit Shah on December 27, 2023, asserted that no one can stop the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as it is the law of the land and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of misleading people. Among the many opponents of CAA, one is Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee.
  • On January 3, 2024, reports emerged suggesting that rules for the CAA are prepared by the Central government and will be notified “much before” the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
  • Union Minister Shantanu Thakur on January 28, 2024, said at a public rally that the CAA will be implemented across all states. The government aims to modernise the citizenship-granting process by making it online, allowing applicants to apply even from their mobile phones. Rules for the CAA’s implementation are expected to be issued before the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, raising expectations for a clearer pathway towards the law’s application.

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