NEW DELHI, July 16 - With the Centre busy tackling COVID-19 and fighting intrusion by China, the implementation of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) has run into uncertainty with the last date for finalising the rules of the Act expiring last month.
The Act was notified in the gazette, and according to parliamentary practices rules should be framed within six months from the day of its notification. The rules have also to be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament that has not been done so far. The last date for drafting of the rules expired on June 18.
The passage of the CAA that triggered a massive protest not only in India but internationally as well had provoked a mass movement in Assam, following which leaders of organisations like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti � Akhil Gogoi and others � were put behind bars.
According to sources the stipulated six-month deadline expired on June 18 and after that the Home Ministry has to seek fresh permission for extension of the time limit for another six months from the presiding officers of Lok Sabha. If the Home Ministry seeks permission now, it will get a lifeline till December this year. In the meantime, they have to lay the rules after finalisation in both Houses of the Parliament.
According to the parliamentary system, the subordinate legislation committee of the Parliament will scrutinise the rules to vet whether these were framed in conformity with the Act notified in the gazette. There were instances in the past of subordinate legislation committee objecting to the rules and the government complying with the recommendations.
Presently, the BJP does not have majority in the committee and may have to indulge in lots of back channel negotiations. The present subordinate legislation committee is headed by YSR (Congress) MP Raghu Kanupuru and there are 15 members, out of which non-NDA members are in majority.
The YSR (Congress), the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh, supported the CAA bill in both Houses of the Parliament, but later they changed their position and in a total U-turn, said that the proposed law was discriminatory. It also opposed the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Apart from three Congress MPs, the YSR (Congress) may create trouble for the BJP to get the rules cleared by the subordinate legislation committee that also has Prof Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party and A Raja of DMK as members. TRS MP Naga Rameshwar Rao is also a member of the committee, but his party�s stand is not clear.
With the elections in Assam due early next year, the Home Ministry will have a small window of ensuing Monsoon Session of Parliament next month to get its act in order. But with COVID-19 scare, the committee may not be in a hurry to comply, landing the BJP in Assam in trouble to explain its position to the Bengali Hindu electorate.