UN chief Antonio Guterres wants to ensure that all governments pursue "non-discriminatory laws", but will not comment on India's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill while the domestic legislative process is still underway, his spokesperson said.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there. The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it, will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod.
"As far as I'm aware, this is legislation that is continuing to go through the legislative process. So, we wouldn't have any comment while the domestic legislative process is being carried out," Guterres’ Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said on Tuesday at the daily press briefing here.
Haq was responding to a question on whether the UN Secretary General has any comment on the passage in the Lok Sabha of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which the reporter said discriminates against Muslims.
"At the same time, you're aware of what our concerns are about making sure that all governments pursue non-discriminatory laws," Haq said.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
India's Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said the Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries.
"It seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights. Such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticised by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom," it said.
"The CAB does not affect the existing avenues available to all communities interested in seeking citizenship from doing so. The recent record of granting such citizenship would bear out the Government of India’s objectivity on the matter," it added.