The Supreme Court today (January 17, 2020) issued a notice to the Central Government seeking a reply on the National Population Register or NPR. The notice was issued in response to a Petition filed by Israrul Haque Mondal who had challenged both the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 or CAA and the NPR.
According to a notification dated 31 July 2019 by the home ministry, the NPR is scheduled to start from April this year. The Supreme Court had earlier issued a notice merging all petitions related to CAA saying that all petitions will be heard on January 22, 2020.
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”.