Day 58 – Q 1.Do you think the enactment and implementation of CAA and NRC raise ethical concerns? Critically examine.
1. Do you think the enactment and implement Do you think the enactment and implementation of CAA and NRC raise ethical concerns? Critically examine.
क्या आपको लगता है कि सीएए और एनआरसी के क्रियान्वयन और कार्यान्वयन में नैतिक चिंताएँ हैं? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।
CAA seeks to grant Indian Citizenship to persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities on ground of religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. NRC The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951. At present, only Assam has such a register.
- Unreasonable classification: The relaxation criteria for eligibility of illegal migrants to gain citizenship is unreasonable. With no explanation given as to the inclusion of this clause, it is prima facie unconstitutional, failing the test of reasonability contained in Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution and corrupting the “basic structure doctrine” (Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala 1973).
- The most glaring discrepancy in the bill is that it categorically states that religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will no longer be treated as illegal immigrants. It specifically names six religions, that is, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. Muslims and Jews have been deliberately kept out of the ambit of this bill. Even though some of these religions are also religious minorities in India, it is notable that four of these six religions fall under the ambit of Hindu personal law.
- India has several other refugees that include Tamils from Sri Lanka and Hindu Rohingya from Myanmar. They are not covered under the Act. This kind of religious outlook is antithetical to the concept of secularism espoused in the Constitution.
- Moreover, the provision of relaxing of the criteria of 11 years to six years to gain citizenship by naturalisation, for the persons belonging to these religious communities, is on similarly orthodox lines. Such a condition makes it tough for persons of other religions, most notably, Islam and Judaism, to enter the fold of Indian citizenship, making it seem like a targeted ousting practice of these religions.
- As of today, the largest religious minority in India is that of Muslims; it makes little sense to deliberately keep them out of the ambit of this bill. Individuals like Taslima Nasrin, for example, who has been living in exile in India since 2005 have been ousted from the ambit of this Bill. Nasrin asserts that she is an Indian, but the Bill could make it nearly impossible for her to gain Indian citizenship on the basis of her religion.
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 states that the central government may by order cancel the registration granted to the OCI, if such a person has show disaffection towards the Constitution. Raised as an argument in the Lok Sabha, time and again, this is a clause that gives wide powers to the centre, since there are no guidelines as to what counts as “disaffection” towards the Constitution, leaving scope for misuse.
- Despite exemption granted to some regions in the Northeastern states, the prospect of citizenship for massive numbers of illegal Bangladeshi migrants has triggered deep anxieties in the states.
- It will be difficult for the government to differentiate between illegal migrants and those persecuted.
Arguments in favour
- To provide citizenship to persecuted minorities is indeed a humanitarian cause.
- The government has clarified that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are Islamic republics where Muslims are in majority hence they cannot be treated as persecuted minorities. It has assured that the government will examine the application from any other community on a case to case basis.
- This Act comes as a big boon to all those people who have been the victims of Partition and the subsequent conversion of the three countries into theocratic Islamic republics.
- Citing partition between India and Pakistan on religious lines in 1947, the government has argued that millions of citizens of undivided India belonging to various faiths were staying in Pakistan and Bangladesh from 1947.
- The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries.
- Many such persons have fled to India to seek shelter and continued to stay in India even if their travel documents have expired or they have incomplete or no documents.
The Central Government should appoint a National Immigration Commission to frame a National Migration Policy and a National Refugee Policy. The Commission should examine ways of strengthening the Foreigners Act 1946, as well as feasibility of Identity Cards for both citizens and non-citizens and Work Permits for migrants.
The law should not limit to minorities from selected countries but also include refugees from persecuted minorities of all religions who have made India their homes.