Citizenship Bill

Why in News?

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 began its hearing in Assam

 

FACTS FOR PRELIMS

Highlights of the  Bill

i)The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.

ii)Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.  The Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.

iii) The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

 

Criticism

The primary reason behind the opposition to the Bill in Assam is that it would make the cut-off date of March 25, 1971, redundant for citizenship of undocumented immigrants residing in the state mentioned in the Assam Accord of 1985.

Assam Accord

The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.

Key Demands

i)All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.

 

ii)Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.

 

iii)A parallel package for the economic development of Assam, including a second oil refinery, a paper mill and an institute of technology, was also worked out.

 

iv)The central government also promised to provide ‘legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage’ of the Assamese people.

 

Source-The Economic Times.