Listen to this article:
New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked for another six months to frame rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which was passed by both houses of parliament in late 2019, The Hindu reported. The controversial law – which led to nationwide protests at the time, going on for months until they were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic – has been called anti-Muslim and unconstitutional by its critics.
Under the CAA, non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 are eligible for fast-track Indian citizenship. However, without the rules being framed, the Act cannot be implemented.
Rules are mandatory for the implementation of any new or amended law and are normally framed within six months of its enactment. This is the fifth time the home minister is asking for an extension on framing the CAA rules. Before this, on January 9, the Union government had sought a three-month extension, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay. This time, the ministry has asked for time till October 9.
In May last year, the Centre allowed Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from these three countries, and who are residing in certain 13 districts of India, to apply for the host country’s citizenship. However, the applications were invited under the Citizenship Act of 1955 since the rules pertaining to the amended Act are yet to be finalised.
While Bharatiya Janata Party leaders – including former party chief and current home minister Amit Shah and current party chief J.P. Nadda – have said over the last more than two years that the party is committed to implementing the CAA, the consistent delays in the rules being framed raise questions on whether that is true.