Another petition was filed today (January 17, 2020) challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) before the Supreme Court of India. The petitioners in the case are Professor Apurba Baruah and two other members of the Sushta Samaj Bikash Chakra who argue that Section 6a of CAA has shifted the 1971 cut-off date to 2014 which is violative of the 1985 Assam accords.
To give basic idea to the readers, Section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for citizenship by registration. Section 6 provides for citizenship by naturalisation. As per Section 6 read with the Third Schedule given in the act, any person of full age and capacity, if qualified in accordance with the Schedule, can acquire Indian citizenship by naturalisation if, interalia, he is a person who has resided in India or has worked with the Central Government or partly the one and partly the other for a period of twelve months prior to submission of application for naturalisation (as provided for in Clause (c) of the third schedule) and he is a person who has resided in India or has worked with the Central Government or partly the one and partly the other for a period of eleven years in the fourteen years immediately preceding to the said twelve months (as provided in Clause (d) of the third schedule. This is the position prior to the CAA.
Illegal migrants were expressly excluded by Sections 5 and 6 from acquiring citizenship by either registration or naturalisation. “Illegal migrant” has been defined in Section 2 (b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 to mean any foreigner who had entered India without any valid document or authority prescribed by law and also includes any foreigner who has entered India with valid documents and authority, but has stayed beyond the period of permit.
Present CAA adds a proviso to Section 2 (b) according to which persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan have been excluded from the purview of the definition of illegal migrants. Consequently, above said persons have been excluded from the bar to illegal migrants for acquisition of citizenship by registration under Sections 5 or by naturalisation under Section 6. CAA also adds proviso to Clause (d) of the Third Schedule and under the clause above said persons will require to stay for "not less than five years" in place of "not less than eleven years”.