Ministry of Home Affairs misses deadline for formulating Citizenship Amendment Act rules

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has missed the six month deadline to frame rules for the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, delaying its implementation and prompting accusations from the Opposition.

The CAA, which was passed in December last year and came into force on January 10, provides citizenship to six non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered in India before 31 December, 2014.

With the MHA not notifying the rules, the Act cannot be implemented. According to the Manual of Parliamentary Procedure, rules have to be framed within six months from the date on which the statute came into force.

“In case the Ministries/Departments are not able to frame the rules within the prescribed period of six months, they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension; such extension being not more than for a period of three months at a time. The request should be made after obtaining the approval of the Minister,” the manual said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation will soon be writing to the MHA, which has not yet approached the panel for extension of time, asking for a status report on the issue.

Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha tweeted, “did you know that the CAA rules have not been framed and notified despite a lapse of seven months. The act cannot be implemented in the absence of rules? Do you realise how the whole thing was just meant to fool the people and win elections?”

A senior Trinamool Congress leader told DH, What reasons will the Home Minister cite for delay in framing of CAA rules? Why is he deliberately delaying the rules after passing the legislation in such a big hurry? Was the legislation done only to create a stir and whip up communal disharmony? Has Modi-Shah’s political gamble badly backfired? Was it too hot to handle? Especially in Bengal? This is an admittance of that.”

The Opposition had risen in rebellion against the Bill when it came for passage in Parliament late last year, accusing the government of introducing religion as criteria for citizenship. It also resulted in huge protests across the country, amid accusations that it was aimed at targeting Muslims.

In January, reports, including in DH, had suggested that the MHA may include a provision for seeking documents to prove their religion and their entry into India before the cut-off date from people seeking citizenship under the CAA. Those applying will also have to provide proof that they came from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh.

According to the report of the Joint Committee of Parliament that vetted a previous version of the Bill, there were 31,313 people belonging to minority communities from these countries will be “immediate beneficiaries”, as they had been given Long Term Visas on the basis of their claim of religious persecution in their respective countries and want Indian citizenship.

Among 31,313, the Intelligence Bureau told the panel, 25,447 are Hindus, 5,807 are Sikhs, 55 Christians and two each Buddhists and Parsis.

For citizenship, the IB said, they will have to prove that they came to India due to religious persecution. “If they had not declared so at the time of arrival in India, it would be difficult for them to make such a claim now. Any future claim will be enquired into, including through RAW before a decision is taken,” the IB had told the panel.

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