The Ministry of Home Affairs in its 2021-22 Annual Report has revealed that it has delegated powers under Citizenship Act to grant citizenship under the controversial 2019 amendment. Delegated powers have been “given” to Collectors of 13 more districts and Home Secretaries of 2 more states. With this, Collectors of 29 districts and Home Secretaries of 9 States have been authorized to grant citizenship in respect of foreigners belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, and Christian or Parsi community from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The 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.”
The report states that from April 1, 2021 to December 31 2021, a total of 1414 citizenship certificates have been granted by all authorities including this Ministry. Out of this, 1120 were granted by registration under section 5 and 294 were granted by naturalisation under section 6 of the Citizenship Act. These notifications clearly invoke the 2019 amendments.
They clearly direct that “the Central Government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it, for registration as a citizen of India under section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6, of the Citizenship Act, 1955, in respect of any person belonging to minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians (hereinafter referred to as “the applicant”), residing in the districts mentioned ..
The latest two districts to be added to this list of 29 districts were Anand and Mehsana districts of Gujarat. We had reported that on October 31, the MHA issued an order empowering District Collectors of Anand and Mehsana districts of Gujarat to grant citizenship under section 5 (by registration) and section 6 (by naturalization) of Citizenship Act. This has brought the total to 31 districts now!
This exclusionary and discriminating provision was brought in by the much debated and contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) which, in the consequence of becoming a law, saw widespread protest across the country.
On the one hand, the Centre has been officially and formally delaying formulating the Rules under CAA which makes it appear as if CAA is not being implemented and on the other hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is determinedly taking steps to implement CAA. This despite the assurance given to Parliament, in August 2021, by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who had stated in the Rajya Sabha that Indian citizenship to the eligible beneficiaries under CAA will be given only after rules under the legislation are notified, reported Indian Express.
CAA being delegated to selective districts
Apart from the October 31 latest notification delegating powers to two Gujarat districts to implement CAA, there have clearly been earlier notifications to delegate these powers to the other districts. We found one other such notification publicly available.
The May 2021 notification delegated these powers to the following districts and states:
(i) Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in the State of Gujarat ;
(ii) Durg and Balodabazar in the State of Chhattisgarh ;
(iii) Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer and Sirohi in the State of Rajasthan ;
(iv) Faridabad in the State of Haryana ; and
(v) Jalandhar in the State of Punjab ;
Further, these powers were delegated to the Secretary of the Department of Home of the States of Haryana and Punjab.
Three of these states, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Rajasthan are opposition ruled states and despite this, nothing has been heard from these state governments on this move by the MHA. Politically, however some of these governments have been opposing both CAA 2019 and the proposed implementation of the All India NPR and NRC.
This story was originally published in cjp.org . Read the full story here