The Act, which grants illegal immigrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has also been opposed by multiple state governments.
Even as protests continue across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the government on Friday notified the controversial legislation, making it effective beginning January 10.
A notification in the official gazette by Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Anil Malik said, “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of the Section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central Government hereby appoints the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force.”
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This practically means that beginning January 10, at least legally, illegal immigrants from communities - barring Muslims - can apply for Indian citizenship under the new Act. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is yet to notify the rules for CAA. Without the rules in place, identifying necessary authorities and streamlining processes may not be feasible.
The notification comes in the backdrop of large-scale protests across the country against the Act and fears being expressed that along with the National Register of Citizens, the Act will practically disenfranchise a large number of Muslims.
The Act, which grants illegal immigrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has also been opposed by multiple state governments. Kerala and West Bengal have announced they will not implement CAA. The Kerala Assembly has even passed a resolution against it.
MHA sources said work is still on to frame the rules for the Act. Since the Act has fixed a cut off date of December 31, 2014, the rules would have to specify the kind of documents that would be needed to prove if the applicant came to India before that date or not.
The ministry also has to decide the nature of documents or evidence that would be required from an applicant to prove that he/she came from the three countries mentioned in the Act. Notably, most illegal immigrants have entered the country without travel documents.
Sources, however, said there would be no need to prove whether the applicant had faced religious persecution as a member of the minority community in the mentioned countries. “That would be deemed to be true. No one would have to prove religious persecution,” an MHA official said.