The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday. The bill was passed with 311 yesses and 80 noes, after a marathon 12-hour long debate which saw strong voices of dissent emerging from the Opposition. The Bill aims to exclude Muslims and aims to provide citizenship to refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Specifically, it outlines refugees belonging to six religions namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians. Opposition leaders slammed the Bill, explaining that the legislation was against the basic principles of the Constitution as it discriminates on the basis of religion and would alienate Muslims, the largest minority community in the country.
The matter will now be taken by the Rajya Sabha, where, if it is passed, the Bill will be made into law following the President’s assent. The Bill had also been proposed during the Modi government’s last term, but it lapsed in the Lok Sabha.
Members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan and are facing persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship when the proposed amendments to the six-decade-old Citizenship Act come into effect. According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the new law, however, will not be applicable in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those tribal regions which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
While introducing the motion in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 is not against minorities but against infiltrators. He referred to the partition of India in 1947 and said Congress divided the country on the basis of religion necessitating the introduction of the Bill. However, he ignored the fact that it was Pakistan which adopted a state religion while India chose to remain secular.