December 3, 2020

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019- The Conflict Between Humanity And Cultural Identity


Population of our country is divided into two parts citizens and aliens. Citizenship is a relation between an individual and a state. It implies the status of freedom with accompanying responsibilities. Aliens enjoy the right given under Article 14 and 21.The Citizenship Act 2019 is an act passed by the Parliament of India , which amends the citizenship Act of 1955to grant a swifter path to Indian Citizenship.

Article will deal with various topics like-

What is Citizenship Act 1955 , Who is a Citizen, Who is an illegal immigrants, Who are not a citizen, features of Amendment Act 2019 , what was the need for an ammendment , Arguments against the Citizenship Act 2019 and the protests which took place recently and lastly the article includes modes of Termination of Citizenship.

Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 – The Conflict Between Humanity And Cultural Identity.

“To celebrate citizenship is one way for society to show that it is something valuable which strengthens the community.”

Citizenship is a relation between an individual and a state. It signifies the status of freedom accompanied with responsibilities. Citizens are entitled with political rights which includes right to vote and to hold public office. The citizen have responsibilities like taxation and military service in contrary with this aliens do not exercise these responsibilities nor they have the political rights.

The citizenship Act 2019 is the Act which is passed by the parliament of India which amends the citizenship Act of 1955.

The Citizenship Act 1955 is the exhaustive law relating to Citizenship in India which is governed by Article 5 to 11 ( part ll) of the Constitution of India.

The Citizenship Act was amended three times under Congress Government and twice under BJP Government.

It was amended in the following years 1986,1992,2003,2005 and 2015.

· Citizenship Amendment Act 1955

With reference to Citizenship Amendment Act 1955 , Citizenship can be granted on the basis of birth , descent,registration and naturalisation.

1.Article 5- Citizenship By Domicile

If at the commencement of Constitution,every person who has Domicile in the territory of India and –

a)who was born in the territory of India

b)either of whose parents was born in territory of India.

c)who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years.

shall be a citizen of India.

2.Article 6: Citizenship of Emigrants From Pakistan

It is divided into two parts who came to India before 19th July 1948 and who came after 19th July 1948.

a) In the case where such persons has so migrated before 19th July 1948 je has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India since the date of his migration.

b) In the case where such person has so migrated after 19th July 1948 he has been registered as a citizen of India by any officer appointed in that behalf by the Government of Dominion of India.

Article 7: Citizenship of Migrants to Pakistan

A person who migrated to Pakistan after 1st March 1947 shall not be deemed to be a citizen of India.

Article 8: Rights of Citizenship of Certain Person of Indian Origin residing outside India

Any person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents if born in India as defined in Government of India Act 1935, provided who is residing in any Country outside India shall be deemed to be a citizen of India.

Article 9:

No person can claim his citizenship under Article 5 , 6 and 8 if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign state.

Article 10:

Every person who is a deemed citizen of India under any of the provision, subject to the provision of any law made by parliament, continue to be citizen of India.

Article 11:

Nothing in the provision of this part shall detract from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect acquisition and termination of Citizenship.

· Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 enables illegal immigrants of Hindu , Sikh , Parsi , Buddhist and Christian community from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to acquire citizenship who have lived in India without documentation and who entered India who before 31st December 2014.

Naturalisation includes 12 years of residence as one of the important element for acquiring citizenship which was lowered to six years by amendment.

The bill incorporated sub section ( d ) to section 7 providing cancellation of overseas citizen of India registration.

Overseas Citizenship of India is not similar to dual citizenship.

Person of Indian Origin who migrated to foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh and acquire citizenship of foreign country. These persons are eligible to be granted Overseas Citizenship of India as long as home country allow dual citizenship.

Overseas citizen Of India is not similar to regular Indian Citizen as:

1.Person is not liable to get Indian passport.

2.No Voting rights.

3.person cannot be a candidate for Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha , Legislative Assembly , Council or a member of House of the people or Council of States.

4.Person is not eligible to hold constitutional posts such as President, Vice – President, Judge of Supreme Court / High Court etc.

5.person cannot take employment under Government of India.

6. Person is not liable to acquire agricultural or plantation property in India but can inherit such properties.

Overseas Citizenship of India ( OCI) Benefits

Overseas Citizenship of India allows hassle – free travel to those Indian Origin people living in foreign country who have acquired citizenship of that foreign country which in turn will leads to economic benefits.

Cancellation of Overseas Citizenship of India

Overseas Citizenship of India can be cancelled

a) if person makes a registration under OCI by fraudulent means.

b)or if person registered under OCI has shown disaffection towards Constitution of India.

Parliament has amended the age – old Citizenship Act 1955 by passing Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019.

Their are 5 ways to acquire citizenship by Birth , Descent, Registration, Naturalization and Incorporation of Territory.

Who Is a Citizen?

A person who is born after 26th January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 outside India is a citizen of India if his/her father was a citizen of India at the time of his/her birth.

Who Is an illegal immigrant?

Illegal immigrant are the person who stay in India after the expiry of Visa permit or who enters India without a valid passport.

If the person uses the false document for the process of immigration.

Who Is not a Citizen?

If a person voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country as stated in Article-9.

If a person is born outside India after 3rd December 2004.

But their is an exception that if a birth is registered within 1 year of the date of birth at an Indian Consulate.He will be considered as a citizen of India.

If the declaration of renunciation is made by the adult.

Features of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

It states that person who entered India before 31st December 2014 and who belongs to non-Muslim communities such as Hindus,Sikhs,Buddhists, Jains and Christians are considered as citizen of India even if they have entered India without valid documents.

A separate column will be added in a citizenship form for these applicants who belongs to these six communities and are from 3 different countries.

Under the passport Act of 1920 and Foreigners Act of 1946 they will not be considered as illegal immigrants.

A decrease of residence requirment from 11 years to 5 years has been made in the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.


The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 will not apply to following two groups

a)Inner Line – If the inner line permit is not granted by a State Government then an Indian from another state cannot visit a state which is under the inner lime permit regime.

b)Areas under sixth schedule – Under this schedule special power is administered for autonomous district councils.

If any violation to Citizenship Act is made Government has power to withdraw registration as OCI.

What is the need for an Amendment?

Their was the need for an amendment because many people were applying for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act, 1955,but they were not able to produce valid proof.

The person claiming for the citizenship belonged to the given six communities- Hindu, Sikh ,Buddhist ,Jain , Parsi and Christian from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

These people had only one option for the application of Citizenship which demanded 11 years of residency in India.

It will benefit those people who stucked in East – Pakistan (Bangladesh)during partition.

It will be also beneficial to the Bengali speaking region of Barak Valley in Assam.

Argument Against:

  • The bill was protested by Assamese speaking people of Brahmaputra region due to following reasons:

    The people of Assam fear that it may threaten their demography.

  • The Assam Accord prevents illegal Bangladeshi migration and the citizenship Amendment Act 2019 violates the principle mentioned in Assam Accord.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 violates the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
  • It also violates Article 14 of Indian Constitution which deals with Fundamental Right to Equality.
  • It also contradicts the provisions of secularism in fundamental rights,Directive Principles and fundamental duties of the Constitution.
  • The refugees like Tamils from Sri Lanka and Rohingya from Myanmar are excluded.

Government Views On This Issue:

  • The illegal Migrants could apply for the citizenship only after the recommendation of Government.
  • The Government also gave a clear views that the Muslims of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh does not belong to persecuted minorities group.
  • By the provision of Citizenship Amendment Bill the beneficiaries can settle in any state of India.
  • These Migrants were previously given protection in the year 2015 and 2016.

The Way Forward

By the citizenship Amendment Act 2019,illegal Migrant will get benefits which includes equality, free of speech and expression, life ,vote, work ,food etc.

The Amendment should not include the minorities only from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh but should also include minorities of all religions who have made India as their home.

The protests Which Took place

A large section of people belonging to Northeast, Assam and Tripura were in opposition of the Amendment Bill as it violates the provision of Assam Accord.

These protests also resulted in death of two persons due to police firing.

Some places like – Guwahati were placed under curfew for particular period .

And lastly the protestors moved the supreme Court challenging the Amendment Act as the opposition were of the view that it violates Right to Equality.

Views on why Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is seen as a problem??

a) Is citizen Amendment Act 2019 affecting any Indian Citizen?

No, it is not affecting any Indian Citizen. People of India will enjoy all the right provided to them by constitution of India.

b) Does it mean that Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can never get Indian Citizenship.?

It absolutely does not mean that Muslims from these countries will not be granted citizenship of India.

aa) As it was seen after the settlement of Indo – Bangladesh boundary issues of 2014. 14,864 Bangladeshi citizens were granted Indian Citizenship out of which almost thousand of them belong to Muslim Community.

ab) Similarly if they are found eligible, all such future migrant would be granted Indian Citizenship as acquiring citizenship by Naturalization mentioned in ( Section 6 of the citizenship Act) or through Registration ( Section 5 of Citizenship Act)remains unamended.

C) Does Citizenship Amendment Act based on grounds of race , gender,membership of a political or social group, language, ethnicity etc.?

No,Citizenship Amendment Act is not based on any of the ground mentioned. It is based on the six religion community from three neighbouring countries.

Any foreigner living outside India can citizenship by applying for registration or Naturalization and if he fulfills minimum qualification mentioned in the Citizenship Act 1955.

D) Will the Citizenship Amendment Act gradually exclude Indian Muslims from the Citizenship of India?

No, the Citizenship Amendment Act will not exclude Indian Muslims from the Citizenship of India as the Citizenship Amendment Act does apply to any Indian Citizens at all .

E) Citizenship Amendment Act will be followed by National Register of Citizenship ( NRC ) and all Migrants except Muslims will be given Citizenship and will Muslim be sent to detention camps?

Let’s first know what is NRC ( National Register of Citizens )

National Register of Citizen is an official record of those who are legal Indian Citizens which includes demographic information related to those individual who qualified as citizen of India under the Citizenship Act 1955.

This register was first prepared after the Census of 1951.

National Register of Citizen (NRC ) relation with Citizenship

The NRC which holds the status of just a proposal once implemented it may target illegal immigrants of India.

But people from Hindus, Christians, Sikhs , Buddhist, Jain and Parsis community who belongs to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh won’t be affected if the claim is made so as they have escaped to India due to religious hostility.

Therefore Citizenship Amendment Act has not brought any changes in NRC.

F) How much of Northeast does the bill cover?

The bill does not apply to areas which comes under sixth schedule of the Constitution.

6th schedule deals with four northeastern states Assam, Meghalaya,Tripura and it administration.

Provision related to schedule are as follows:

1.The governor has power to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts.

2.The District can be divided into several autonomous regions if there are different tribes.

3.Composition-Autonomous District consists of 30 members where four are nominated by the Governor and the remaining 26 are appointed on the basis of adult franchise.

4.Term-The elected members hold office for a term of five years .

5.Each autonomous regions has a separate regional Council.

6.power- Concils have powers to make law on various matters like – land , forests, canal water , shifting , cultivation, marriage and divorce.

Assent of the Governor is an essential requirment to bring law into effect.

7.Functions- The District Council has power to establish ,construct or can manage primary schools,dispensaries, markets and roads.

Regulation could be made related to control of money lending and trade.

Financial and executive power of autonomous Council was increased by 125th Amendment Bill.

The village Council was empowered to make plans related to economic development and social justice and also matter related to land,agriculture,irrigation, water management, animal.husbandary and forestry.

G) How does it Affect Assam?

The people of Assam fears that if the illegal Bengali Hindus are granted Citizenship who have migrated from Bangladesh.Their may be a probability that granting of Citizenship may threaten their cultural and linguistic identities of the State.

H) Why it was necessary for citizenship Amendment Bill to pass Article 14 test?

It was necessary for citizenship Amendment Bill to pass Article 14 test because majority of Indians were of the views that it violates Article 14.

Article 14 deals with

1.Equality before Law – It does not mean absolute equality but it means that all class of person should be treated without discrimination by State.

  • State is defined in Article 12 of Indian Constitution which means:
    Government and Parliament of India.
  • Government and legislature of States.
  • All Local or other territories within the territory of India.
  • And all Local and other territory under the control of Government of India.

2.And equal protection of law within the territory of India – Equal Protection of Law means such law which makes a discrimination between two person cannot be framed.

And the Rights mentioned under Article 14 are available to citizens as well as non-citizens.

Modes Of Termination of Citizenship

Their are basically three modes of Termination of Citizenship

1.Renunciation- In this case if a person voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country he has to give up his Indian Citizenship.

2.Termination- When a person acquires the citizenship of another country voluntarily he ceases to be an Indian Citizen .This process took place in accordance with law.

3.Deprivation- In this case the citizenship gets Terminated which was obtained by registration or Naturalization.

The reason for deprivation are as follows:

a.if citizenship is obtained by fraud or false representation.

b.or if the person is disloyal to the Constitution etc.


On 11th December, The Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.

According to the Ammendment the people from Hindus ,Jains, Sikhs , Christians, Buddhists and Parsis Communities were excluded from the term illegal immigrants which is defined in section 2 (1)(b) of the Citizenship Act.

It has also reduced the time period of acquisition from 11 years to 5 years.

But on the other hand it was opposed by large number of North Eastern people as in their views the amendment may effect their religious indement and they were also of the opinion that it violates Article 14.

In Assam it was protested to a large extent and the result of their protests was that the ammendment Bill was in conflict with the Assam Accord of 1985.

The overall protests resulted in filing of several petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.

1.Citizenship Amendment Act – What is it and why it is seen as a problem

2.6th Schedule of the Constitution

3.what is NRC

4.Book- Constitution of India by J.N Pandey.

For Disclaimer, click here.

Author Details: Riti Rashmi (3rd year student at Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore)

The views of the author are personal only.

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