The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is a limited and narrowly-tailored legislation that seeks to provide a relaxation to specific communities from specified countries with a clear cut-off date, taking a compassionate and ameliorative view, according to the annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The CAA, which was enacted in 2019 but is yet to be implemented, aims to grant citizenship to those members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who faced persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The enactment of the law triggered protests, leading to about 100 deaths in various parts of the country.
The protesters claimed that the law violates the Constitution as it aims to grant Indian citizenship on the basis of religion -- barring Muslims.
"The CAA is a limited and narrowly tailored legislation which seeks to provide a relaxation to aforesaid specific communities from the specified countries with a clear cut-off date. It is a compassionate and ameliorative legislation," the MHA annual report for 2020-21 said.
It said the CAA does not apply to Indian citizens and therefore, does not in any way take away or abridge their rights.
Further, the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category as provided in the Citizenship Act, 1955 is very much operational and the CAA does not amend or alter this legal position in any manner whatsoever, the report pointed out.
Hence, legal migrants of any religion from any country will continue to get Indian citizenship once they fulfil the eligibility conditions provided in the law for registration or naturalisation, it said.
The Constitution has provided special provisions under the Sixth Schedule to grant protection to the tribal and indigenous people of the northeastern region.
The CAA has excluded the areas under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the areas covered by the Inner Line Permit system under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the report noted.
"Hence, the CAA does not affect the protection granted by the Constitution to indigenous population of northeastern states," it said.
The CAA was notified on December 12, 2019 and came into force on January 10, 2020. It aims to facilitate grant of citizenship to migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who had come to India on or before December 31, 2014.