Centre tells top court that CAA does not affect citizenship regime
Even though the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is a “narrow” piece of legislation that does not change the existing regime for obtaining Indian citizenship, legal migration from all countries continues to be permitted based on valid documents and visas, according to the Union government.
The submissions were part of an affidavit filed by the government in response to challenges to the validity of the CAA filed by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and others.
In its affidavit, the government urged the top court to dismiss the claims, stating that the Act does not encourage illegal migration into Assam.
“It is submitted that the existing regime for obtaining citizenship of India by foreigners of any country remains unchanged by the CAA. “All countries of the world, including the three specified countries, are permitted to migrate legally based on valid documents and visas,” the government stated.
On Monday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the petitions.
According to the government, Article 6 of the Constitution defines all migrants from Pakistan (including present-day Bangladesh) as Indian citizens if they were born in undivided India or migrated to India before 19th July 1948 or if their parents or grandparents adopted them. As long as such persons had migrated after this date, registered before a competent officer, and been residing in India for at least six months before the registration date, they were also considered Indian citizens.
Therefore, it is evident that Article 6 entitled a particular class of immigrants post-partition [which was based on religious lines and resulted in large-scale migration based on religious lines] to citizenship in India due to their extraordinary circumstances.
CAA, according to the Centre, is a benign piece of legislation intended to provide relaxation, in the form of an amnesty, to specific communities within the specified countries, with a clear deadline… the CAA is a particular amendment designed to address a specific problem that is prevalent in the selected countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh), Due to the undisputable theocratic constitutional position in the specified countries, as well as the systematic functioning of such States and perceptions of fear among minorities as a result of the de facto situation in these countries, persecution based on religion is considered.
According to the government, the CAA does not seek to recognize or provide answers to any persecution that may occur worldwide. The CAA is a narrowly tailored legislation intended to address the specific problem that has occupied India’s attention for several decades.
Additionally, the government stated that the constitutionality of the CAA should be determined within that legislative domain and not extended beyond that.
On the Act exempting specified areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered by the Inner Line notified by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the government stated that it had been made based on tangible material, historical reasons and existing classifications and that it could not be regarded as discriminatory.
The government argued that judicial review in this matter would be very restrictive and limited in light of the greater scope of legislative policy and legislative wisdom available to the relevant legislature.
No provisions in the CAA would adversely affect the distinctive language, script, or culture of the people of Assam and other North-Eastern states, according to the government.
According to the affidavit, the CAA does not bar an Indian citizen from registering as a voter or excluding him from the electoral roll, nor does it influence the process of making electoral rolls or whether any person is included or excluded.
Foreigners who had taken shelter in India before 31/12/2014 as a result of persecution in three specified countries based on their religion are eligible for the CAA…No provision in the Amendment Act grants citizenship to migrants who have arrived after 31.12.2014 or at any future date… It should be noted that the CAA does not encourage any coming influx of foreigners into India as it relates to pass events and cannot be applied to future events.