How Indian citizenship can be availed under CAA


New Delhi: Proof of entry from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan before 31 December 2014 and their nationality combined with a self-declaration affidavit and an eligibility certificate issued by a local community institution are the broader criteria required to get Indian citizenship, according to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) notification issued Monday.

In a 39-page document, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has explained in great detail the process for non-Muslim refugees from the three neighbouring countries on how to obtain Indian citizenship either through the process of naturalisation or registration.

Passed by Parliament on 11 December 2019, the CAA was met with waves of protests — including the one at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi — across the country as religion for the first time has been made a test of Indian citizenship.

As there were fears that the Act could be used to target religious minorities, some of the protests turned violent in some cities like in Delhi and Guwahati.

While the Modi government maintains the Act does not take away the citizenship of any Indian, the opposition parties have dubbed it as exclusionary and violative of the Constitution. On Monday too, opposition leaders, including Mamata Banerjee, Jairam Ramesh and Asaduddin Owaisi, slammed the CAA’s implementation just before the Lok Sabha polls.

Proof of nationality

To prove their nationality of Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the applicants have to furnish any of 9 documents listed by the MHA under Schedule 1A of the CAA —  a copy of the passport; birth certificate issued by a government authority; identity document of any kind issued by the government; any certificate or licence issued by the government; land or tenancy records in their countries of origin; documents establishing their parents or grandparents or great grandparents were citizens of the country; or any other document issued by the government establishing that they had come from the three countries along with the citizenship forms before the competent authority.

Additionally, they can also prove their nationality by furnishing a registration certificate or residential permit issued by India’s Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO), the MHA said in the notification.

Making it easier for the immigrants whose nationality documents are either expired or are expiring soon, the ministry said that these documents would be deemed valid irrespective of their validity period.

Competent authority 

The MHA has made an empowered committee comprising four members and two invitees at the state-level and two members and two invitees at the district-level as the competent authority to grant citizenship by registration or naturalisation under Section 6B of the Citizenship Act.

The empowered committee at the state-level would be comprised of five representatives from the Centre and one representative from the state or union territory.

The MHA further said that the district-level committee would be verifying the documents submitted by applicants and forwarding the files to the state-level empowered panel along with the declaration of the applicant and verification report.

The empowered committee would then grant citizenship based on registration or naturalisation and maintain records accessible to the MHA or security agencies. The MHA further empowered the committee to inquire about the suitability of any applicant, including seeking a report from the security agency which would be provide in an online format.

Also Read: Amit Shah pledges CAA rollout before Lok Sabha polls. Why it’s crucial for BJP in Bengal 

Proof of entry 

In the next schedule 1B, the MHA has listed  17 documents that applicants have to furnish to prove that they entered India on or before 31 December 2014.

The documents include a copy of the visa and immigration stamp at the time of their arrival in India; government-issued documents and licences such as the driving license and Aadhaar; any letter issued to the applicant by any court or government with a time stamp; ration card of the applicant; birth certificate of the applicant issued in India; land or tenancy certificate of the applicant; PAN document showing date of issue of the card; insurance policies, marriage certificate, school leaving certificate, among others.

“The documents should establish that the applicant had entered India on or before 31.12.2014,” the MHA said in the gazette notification.

Any of the documents would suffice to prove that an applicant entered India before the timeline of the act, it added.

Declaration & eligibility certificate

Apart from the proof of their nationality and dates of their entries into India, applicants will also have to submit a declaration in the format prescribed by the MHA in the gazette along with an “eligibility certificate” issued by a locally reputed community institution.

As part of the declaration process, applicants would be required to give in detail the full address where they are residing at the time of citizenship application as well as their last address in the countries of their origin.

Additionally, they would be required to identify themselves as per their religion and reiterate the date they entered India. This affidavit needs to be attested by a Judicial Magistrate or an Executive Magistrate or an Oath Commissioner or a Notary Public.

For the eligibility certificate, applicants need Indian citizens belonging to locally reputed community institutions who can identify and confirm them based on their nationality and religion. Citizenship will be granted retrospectively from the date of their entries in India, it added.

Earlier in the day, the MHA had tweeted that the applications would be done online through a dedicated portal.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Section 6A of Citizenship Act — as SC reserves verdict on plea by Assam groups, here’s what the law says 


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