CAA rules to be notified ‘much before’ Lok Sabha poll announcement

New Delhi: Rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 will be notified “much before” the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, a senior government functionary said on Tuesday.

Under the CAA brought in by the Narendra Modi government, Indian nationality will be granted to persecuted non-Muslim migrants — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who had come to India till December 31, 2014.

There were massive protests in some parts of the country after the CAA was passed by Parliament in December 2019 and received presidential assent subsequently.

“We are going to issue the rules for the CAA soon. Once the rules are issued, the law can be implemented and those eligible can be granted Indian citizenship,” the functionary said.

Delayed by more than four years, rules for the CAA are a must for its implementation.

Asked whether the rules will be notified before the announcement of the next Lok Sabha elections that are likely to be held in April-May, the functionary said, “Yes, much before that.”

“The rules are ready and the online portal is also in place and the entire process will be online. The applicants will have to declare the year when they entered India without travel documents. No document will be sought from the applicants,” the functionary said.

On December 27, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that no one can stop the implementation of the CAA as it is the law of the land and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of misleading people on the issue.

Addressing a party meeting in Kolkata, Shah said it was the BJP’s commitment to implement the CAA. The TMC, led by Mamata Banerjee, has been opposing the CAA.

The promise of implementing the controversial CAA was a major poll plank of the BJP in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in West Bengal.

The saffron party’s leaders consider it a plausible factor that led to the rise of the BJP in the state.

According to the manual of parliamentary procedures, the rules for any legislation should have been framed within six months of presidential assent or seek an extension from the Committees on Subordinate Legislation in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Since 2020, the Home Ministry has been taking extensions at regular intervals from the parliamentary committees for framing the rules.

More than a hundred people lost their lives during the protests or police action after Parliament passed the law.

Meanwhile, in the last two years, more than 30 district magistrates and home secretaries of nine states have been given powers to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan under the Citizenship Act of 1955.

According to the annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for 2021-22, from April 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, a total of 1,414 foreigners belonging to these non-Muslim minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were given Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The nine states where Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization is given under the Citizenship Act of 1955 to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.

Authorities of none of the districts of Assam and West Bengal, where the issue is politically very sensitive, have been given the powers so far.