The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday granted a week’s time to the Central Government to file a progress report on the drafting of rules for implementation of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
The Division Bench comprising Justice Sangeet Lodha and Justice Rameshwar Vyas also sought the Government’s response on the provision for providing temporary ration cards to Pakistan Minority Migrants.
The development comes in a suo moto case registered by the High Court in the year 2017, concerned by the plight and predicaments of persons belonging to minorities in Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, being discriminated for socio-economic and political reasons, who migrated to India seeking shelter in India.
During the pendency of the petition, the much debated CAA came into force on January 10, this year. This amendment to Citizenship Act, 1955, liberalizes the grant of citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had entered India before December 31, 2014.
As per proviso introduced in Section 2(1)(b), they will not be regarded as ‘illegal migrants’. It also makes migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian religions from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship by naturalization if they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of existing eleven years.
The Government is yet to frame Rules in this regard, detailing the procedure to be adopted by authorities, by amending Citizenship Rules, 2009. There were reports that a decision in this regard will be taken after seeking experts’ advice.
During the course of hearing before the High Court, Amicus curie Sajjan Singh Rathore argued that framing of rules was essential for proper enforcement of the Act. Inter alia, it was argued that until framing of the rules, these ‘minority refugees’ should either be provided temporary ration cards or they should be allowed free ration.
The issue of NORI (no objection to return to India) visa was also raised, and Amicus curiae told the Court that many people who went to Pakistan before the lockdown were stuck there.
Under the NORI visa, migrants are permitted to visit their country for a period of 60 days. Rathore pointed out that the 60-day limit had expired during the Covid induced lockdown and now the migrants were not being permitted to travel back to India, citing expiry of their visas.
The High Court has therefore asked the Government about its stance on extending the NORI visa of the refugees who had gone to Pakistan before the lockdown.
“Learned Additional Advocate General and the counsel appearing for the Union of India seek a week’s time to make their submissions in response to the written submissions made on behalf of the Pakistan Minority Migrants raising grievances regarding non issuance of ration card and extension of period of VISA.
Time prayed for is allowed,” the order states.
The matter is now listed for hearing on August 27.
[With PTI Inputs]