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Understanding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act: Implementation and Amendments Explained

Navigating the Changes and Processes Surrounding the CAA Notification

New Delhi: The central government has issued a Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) notification. This was done with the Lok Sabha elections in view. With the notification of the Citizenship Act, the political campaign strategy has also changed in Kerala. The centre has come up with more explanations as protests have intensified, including in Kerala.

Explanation of Amendments

The Ministry of Home Affairs has released amendments to the Citizenship Act. They explained that it is not a law to take away Indian citizens’ citizenship. This is irrespective of caste and religion. Instead, many misconceptions about the law are being spread. The law aims to bring dignity to refugees who have been persecuted for decades.

The ministry pointed out that this Act would remove legal barriers to citizenship and resettlement. This is for six religious minorities in three countries. It will be used to protect their cultural, linguistic, and social existence. The Act also ensures economic and commercial rights, free movement, and property rights. Areas like Karbi Anglong in Assam, Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Chakma district in Mizoram, and tribal districts in Tripura are exempted. These areas are included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

CAA Implementation Process

Even when it is said that there will be no policy, including in Kerala, there are amendments to overcome this. The new provision limits the involvement of state governments. It is in the process of granting citizenship. Previously, the District Collector under state government control could accept applications. However, the new law states that the central government should form committees. These include an empowered committee and a district-level committee. Their role is to receive and handle applications currently submitted electronically.

The application process for citizenship is now entirely online. A particular web portal has been set up for this purpose. High-powered committees headed by the Director of Census have been appointed. It is in the states and Union Territories to implement the Act. Application forms are enclosed with this notification. Applicants should enter the year they come to India. They must have been residing in India for one year. The condition is that they must have lived in India for at least 5 years out of the past 14 years.

The amendment removes a previous requirement. Earlier, people from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan needed an Indian passport or residential permit to apply. Birth certificates, education records, licenses, land and tenancy documents can now be used instead.

Before CAA Implimatiation

Previously, certain documents were required. These included a copy of a valid foreign passport, residential permit, Rs 1,500 challan, applicant’s affidavit, and two affidavits from Indians about the applicant’s character. Newspaper cuttings stating the intention to apply were also needed. All of these have been excluded under the new amendment.

Additionally, the government has waived another requirement. Earlier, applicants had to produce a certificate from an educational institution. This was to prove they knew a language in the Eighth Schedule. Now, the ability to speak a language is sufficient.

Twenty documents have been declared valid to prove applicants entered before December 31, 2014. This includes visas, FRRO residential permits, slips from Census enumerators, driver’s licenses, Aadhaar, ration cards, government/court letters, birth certificates, land/tenancy documents, and registration agreements.

The list also has PAN cards, central/state/PSU/bank documents, certificates from elected members/officers/revenue officers, post office accounts, insurance policies, utility bills, court/tribunal documents, EPF documents, school certificates, trade licenses, and marriage certificates.

Appointment of High Power Committee

High-powered committees headed by the Director of Census have been appointed to implement the Act. Permanent members include an IB officer (at least Deputy Secretary rank), an FRRO officer, a state NIC officer, and a Postmaster General/nominee. Representatives from the State Home Secretary’s office and the Railway Divisional Manager will be invitees.

Senior/Superintendents of Police lead district committees. Permanent members are the District NIC officer/assistant nominated by the Centre and a Tehsildar-rank officer from the Collector’s office. The Railway Station Master of the area is an invitee. Both committees need a quorum of the chairman plus one member.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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