Protests have gripped the nation ever since the government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Parliament. Since then, a lot of arguments have been made against the CAA, wherein critics termed it discriminatory towards Indian Muslims when viewed in connection with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). The government, meanwhile, has been trying to allay fears, stating that the CAA will not impact any Indian Muslims.
Lawyer Gautam Bhatia joined The News Minute’s Anna Isaac and Ragamalika Karthikeyan and took live questions to clarify some aspects of the new law and also the link between the three.
“The CAA gives you immunity from persecution for being an illegal migrant and also gives you a track for becoming a citizen in a six-year time period. However, that is conditional. There are three conditions, firstly that you must be from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. Secondly, you must be one of the six religious communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis — and thirdly you should have come to India before December 31, 2014. So this is not a law that protects those who have now fled to India, it talks about people who are already in India and creates a distinction among these,” explained Gautam Bhatia.
On why Sri Lankan Tamils have been left out of CAA, Gautam says that a 2011 SOP from the Government of India applies to them. “It says that if you are a person who has come to India fearing religious persecution, then on a case to case basis, you are entitled to a Long Term Visa (LTV). This is not the same as citizenship, they do not have a right to vote and not all constitutional rights,” he said. On Tamil Nadu government’s claim that Sri Lankan citizens can be given dual citizenship, Gautam says that this is something that cannot be done since India does not have a concept of dual citizenship.
Is there a link between the CAA and the NRC and NPR — was one of the many questions asked.
“CAA is a law that gives immunity and citizenship to undocumented migrants of certain countries and religions. The NRC is an exercise that requires individuals in India to prove they are citizens of India. It brings a register that puts people in and kicks people out,” Gautam explained.
“In citizenship rules (2003), it is said that on the basis of the information we receive through the NPR, the NRC will be made. That is how the NRC and the NPR are linked. In NRC, some people are taken in and some will be left out. Among the people who will be left out, there will be people among all religions, as we saw in the NRC in Assam,” Gautam said.
“The CAA basically says that if you are a person coming from these three countries and these six religions, then you get citizenship and protection. The key link between the CAA and the NRC will depend upon what rules the CAA will have in the future because they will set out how you will prove that you are from these three countries and belong to these three religions,” he added.
Gautam also answered many pertinent questions, such as what sort of documents may be required to prove citizenship, and what happens if a person’s name does not figure in the NPR and subsequently NRC. He also explained how the Foreigners Act may come into play if a person is deemed an illegal resident of India.
Questions from the viewers also included concerns about how the NRC and CAA would work if they are atheists, and responses to the argument that there were other countries where Muslims are not persecuted and so, they could go there. Concerns about the Act’s constitutionality vis-à-vis Article 14 (right to equality), and whether the Supreme Court could intervene were also raised, and answered by Gautam.
Watch the full video here:
What is the CAA? How is linked to NRC and NPR? What does all this mean, legally? TNM is live with lawyer Gautam Bhatia who is answering all questions on the same.Posted by TheNewsMinute on Sunday, 12 January 2020