Protest against the CAA in Patna on March 8. Photo: PTI

Indian Parliament itself is being used to dismantle the Indian Constitution, brick by brick. Amendments and new laws are pushed through without the democratic niceties of discussion, debate and dialogue, and never mind the Parliamentary standing committees. At midnight on December 10, 2019, International Human Rights Day, Parliament passed the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, with a majority of 311:80. Simultaneously, the home minister warned of the launch of the all-India NRC (National Register of Citizens).

In defiance of the basic constitutional tenets of equality and non-discrimination, Parliament made religion a marker. Singling out the “Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan”, it fast-tracked processes for non-Muslims from there to enlist as Indian citizens. By December 12, the amendments were law.

Vibrant countrywide protests led by minority voices shocked a dispensation unused to dissent, but Covid-19 and the lockdown ended them. In Delhi, the protests and protesters were criminalised ― over 15 young leaders, almost all Muslim, remain incarcerated under an anti-terror law. The CAA 2019 and NRC-NPR (National Population Register) had to be put on hold. We have, however, been periodically reminded/warned by the dispensation that the process will begin again.

That time has come, two years before the 2024 general elections. The Ministry of Home Affairs in its 2021-22 Annual Report reveals that it has delegated powers under the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship under the controversial 2019 amendment. Though Rules have not yet been passed, the report states that in 2021, 1,414 citizenship certificates were granted under CAA provisions.

Does this mean that implementation of the discriminatory provisions of CAA 2019 has begun, using the MHA executive diktat and the formal provisions of an earlier 2009 amendment?

Yes. Collectors of 29 districts and Home Secretaries of nine states have been authorised to grant citizenship to foreigners belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, and Christian or Parsi communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The MHA report states, “The delegation will speed up the process of granting Indian citizenship to aforesaid category of migrants as the decision would be taken at local level.” Meanwhile, Parliament has been “assured” (Aug 2021) that there is no question of CAA 2019 being implemented until the Rules are finalised.

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