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Suggestions on amendment to Citizenship Act

By Arindam Gupta

SILCHAR, Jan 21 - Taking a cue from the Centre�s move to provide citizenship to the members of minority communities from Bangladesh and Pakistan who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution, two advocates from Silchar, Dharmananda Deb and Mriganka Bhattacharjee, on Wednesday have put forward their suggestions on the draft amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Dharmananda Deb, who is also the joint secretary of Silchar Bar Association, said that the Foreigners Division under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, in its circular issued on December 21, 2015, sought suggestions from the people on its proposal to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by inserting the proviso in Clause (b) of subsection 1 of Section 2 of the Act within January 21.

Dharmananda pointed out the paragraph from proposed amendment which says that a person belonging to minority community in Bangladesh and Pakistan namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have been exempted by the Central Government from Rule 3 of the Passport( Entry into India) Rules 1950 and from the application of the Foreigners Act 1946, and the orders made hereunder shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act.

Dharmananda said, �The draft amendment does nowhere mention the procedures to acquire citizenship for the people migrated to India from Bangladesh and Pakistan.� He added that it is Rule 4 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules 1950 and not Rule 3 as mentioned in the proposed paragraph. Hence we suggest that the lines �Rule 4 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules 1950 and Section 3 A of the Foreigners Order, 1948 as amended up-to-date� to be inserted after the words �exempted by the Central Government from� and before the words �and from the application of the Foreigners Act 1946,� which appear in the third and fourth line of the proposed paragraph.�

Further, he said that the insertion of the paragraph alone is insufficient to settle the issue of citizenship as this in itself is not an enabling provision for acquiring citizenship and therefore it is suggested that the paragraph �The Central Government has the power to register a person as a citizen of India who is a religious-minority-migrant from Bangladesh and Pakistan and who has been defined under an exemption clause, i.e Clause (b) of the subsection 1 of section 2 of this Act,� should be inserted as Sub-section (1-B) of Section 5 of the Act in order to be able to confer Citizenship and empower the government to grant citizenship to this category of persons. Mriganka Bhattacharjee claimed that the circular issued on December 21 �merely clarifies the definition on illegal migrant and is wobbling in the halfway stage which might need repetitive amendments�.

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