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How various departments of the government responded to various queries on the Citizenship Amendment Bill

Here's what the Law ministry said on the exclusion of the term 'religious persecution' from the text of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Who stands to benefit from the bill and the government sees the bill.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 12, 2019, 08.13 AM IST
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A detailed enquiry will be conducted by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to verify claims of religious persecution, says IB.
From why the term ‘religious persecution’ is absent in the text of the Citizenship Amendment Bill to whether it violates Article 14, the Joint Parliamentary Committee obtained detailed responses from relevant government officials during their hearings from 2016 to 2019, ET reports.


LAW, HOME MINISTRIES EXPLAIN

LAW MINISTRY: The law is drawn from MHA’s September 7, 2015, notification which mentions the expression. The notification exempted minority groups of Pakistan and Bangladesh — namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from the provisions of the Passport (Entry Into India) Rules, 1950

HOME MINISTRY: On July 18, 2016, another order was issued inserting Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Para 3-A of the Foreigners Order 1948. This too mentions the term ‘religious persecution’. Both these amended rules find mention in Section 2 of the new law

Whether new law would violate Art 14 of Constitution
LAW MINISTRY: The amendment did not violate the spirit of Article 14, as it ‘upholds the test of reasonable classification as propounded by a seven-judge bench in the State of West Bengal Vs Anwar Ali Sarkar (AIR 1952 SC 75). On Article 25, the proposed amendment does not, in any way, affect the right of any person to freely profess, practice and propagate religion in the country In another hearing before the committee, Department of Legal Affairs took a stand and stated that Article 14 encompasses both the negative concept of ‘equality before law’ as well as the positive concept of ‘equal protection of law’. “Thus, the same ensures that no special provision in favour of any one is made and that all are equally subject to the ordinary law of the land. The positive concept of equality does not postulate equal treatment of all persons without distinction but rather stresses on equality of treatment in equal circumstances or to similarly situated persons. A legislature is entitled to make reasonable classification for purposes of legislation and treat all in one class on equal footing,” the report states.

On using ‘persecuted minorities’ instead of naming religious groups
LAW MINISTRY: This may negate the objectives of the bill because in the event of giving wider scope of interpretation to the term ‘minority’, the aspect of ‘religious persecution’ would be lost sight of.

How will govt authenticate claims of religious persecution in a foreign land?
HOME MINISTRY: Inputs from security agencies along with other corroborative evidence in the print/electronic media would help establish religious persecution in a foreign land.

INTELLIGENCE BUREAU: Verification of claims will follow a standard operating procedure. A detailed enquiry will be conducted by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to verify his/her claim.

How many people will benefit?
INTELLIGENCE BUREAU: As per our records, there are 31,313 persons belonging to minority communities (Hindus: 25,447; Sikhs: 5,807; Christians: 55; Buddhists: 2; Parsis: 2) who have been given long-term visa on the basis of their claim of religious persecution in their respective countries and want Indian citizenship. During the debate on the bill, home minister Amit Shah, however, said lakhs and crores of migrants will benefit from the bill

On inimical elements misusing the new law
IB: Proper verification will be done along with the country’s premier external intelligence agency RAW, which also had raised this issue

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