The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi faiths who entered India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for citizenship. The bill intends to make it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to become citizens of India.
If a person belonging to the aforemention faiths, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, does not have proof of birth of parents, they can apply for Indian citizenship after six years of residence in India.
The amendment applies to people who were "forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion..."
Under the Citizenship Act, 1955, one of the requirement for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years.
The amended bill relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.
Citizenship Amendment Bill exempts 3 states:
Citizenship Amendment Bill exempts the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, almost the whole of Meghalaya, and parts of Assam and Tripura. Manipur remains in the ambit. The bill states: "Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under 'The Inner Line' notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Controversy around Citizenship Amendment Bill:
Citizenship Amendment Bill is being criticised as some claim it targets Muslims. Critics argue that it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to quality. The government has, however, maintained that the Citizenship Amendment Bill aims to grant citizenship to minorities who have faced religious persecution in Muslim-majority foreign countries.