Explained: Why Amit Shah wants to amend the Citizenship Act before undertaking countrywide NRC

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News:Union Home Minister has said that the government would first amend the existing citizenship norms  by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill before it implements a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Facts:

About Citizenship amendment bill,2016:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955.It seeks to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship.
  • The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
  • The bill has been criticised as it seeks to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion – a move that may violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

About National Register of Citizens(NRC):

  • Till date,Assam is the only state that has implemented the National Register of Citizens. 
  • The NRC defines all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion on the basis of a cutoff date in Assam which was set to be March 24,1971. 
  • To claim citizenship,individuals had to prove that either they or their ancestors were Indian citizens before March 1971.
  • The updated NRC was published on August 31,2019.Over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final list.

What will happen if the Citizenship Amendment happens before a nationwide NRC?

  • If the citizenship bill is passed before NRC, then illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be eligible for Indian citizenship and would not be excluded from the National Register of Citizens.