Amid a debate comparing U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on “extreme vetting” of visitors from seven countries to the United States and India’s own Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, chairman of a joint committee of Parliament on the Bill, Satyapal Singh has denied that an equivalence can be drawn between the two.
The U.S. order is to prevent people who the administration feels will possibly indulge in radical terror activities to enter the country, and has more to do with public order and security.Our Bill aims to give help to those persecuted on religious grounds. There are many cases of religious persecution and people fleeing to India and it has to be taken into account.
Provisions of Citizenship Act of 1955
Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, an applicant for citizenship requires to have resided in India for the last 12 months and for 11 years.
Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016
The Amendment Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Controversy regarding the new bill
The moment the Bill was introduced; there was uproar that it violated Article 14 of the Constitution that guaranteed equal treatment under the law to all citizens.
The exclusion of people following Islam from this list of relaxed terms is considered a direct violation of that Fundamental Right.
Need for reconciliation
Among major sticking points, he said some of the provisions of the Bill did go against the Assam Accord of 1985.
Assam Accord of 1985
According to the provisions of that accord, foreigners who entered Assam after 1971 (the year Bangladesh was created) were to be deported. There are many people, having crossed over from Bangladesh into Assam who could get citizenship under the new provisions of the Bill.The BJP’s ally in Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has objected to the Bill.