CAA Rollout: Eligibility, Process, and Debates

Image depicting a statement: 'No Indian Citizen Would Be Asked To Produce Any Document' regarding the rollout of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) - Exploring Eligibility, Process, and Debates.
CAA Rollout- Eligibility, Process, and Debates[Source-Livelaw]

On March 11, 2024, the Government of India announced the official rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), marking a significant step in the execution of this contentious legislation enacted in December 2019. The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to certain migrants from neighboring countries who belong to specific religious communities.

Eligibility and Requirements for CAA Beneficiaries:

Under the CAA Rules, eligible migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan must demonstrate their country of origin, religion, date of entry into India, and proficiency in an Indian language. The legislation assumes that these individuals faced religious persecution in their home countries, thus reducing the period for citizenship by naturalization from 11 years to five.

Proof of Country of Origin:

The CAA Rules have relaxed the documentation requirements for establishing the country of origin. Applicants can now submit various documents, including birth certificates, educational records, identity documents, and records indicating familial ties to the specified countries.

Date of Entry into India:

To establish their entry date into India, migrants can provide a range of documents, including visas, residential permits, census records, and official letters. The CAA Rules list 20 admissible documents for this purpose.

Processing of Citizenship Applications:

The application process involves electronic submission to a District Level Committee (DLC) and subsequent processing by an Empowered Committee, both established by the Central Government. The Empowered Committee comprises representatives from various government agencies, with minimal involvement of state authorities.

Previous Efforts to Address Refugee Concerns:

The CAA builds upon previous initiatives dating back to 2002, aimed at addressing the challenges faced by refugees from neighboring countries. These efforts have included amendments to citizenship rules and notifications facilitating the grant of Long Term Visas (LTVs) and citizenship to specific categories of migrants.

Benefits for LTV Holders:

Before the enactment of the CAA, the government had extended benefits to migrants holding Long Term Visas, enabling them to access employment, education, healthcare, and other essential services within India.

Opposition to CAA Implementation:

Despite efforts to streamline the citizenship process, several opposition-ruled states have voiced opposition to implementing the CAA. Additionally, international entities, such as the European Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, have raised concerns about the legislation.

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