NEW DELHI, Dec 10 - Apprehending trouble over passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament, the NDA government has initiated drastic moves by introducing some new rules by further amending the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
A gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on December 3 said that in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, the Central government hereby makes the following rules to further amend the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
“These rules may be called the Citizenship (Second) Amendment Rules, 2018 and shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette. In the Citizenship Rules, 2009, in the Schedule I,- (a) in Form II, in Part I, for serial number 6A and the entry relating thereto, the following shall be substituted, namely: Do you belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians?”
A separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – has been created, leading to fresh suspicion about the Centre’s latest move.
The move is seen as an attempt to identify religious minority people belonging to the neighbouring countries, though the notification does not mention anything about granting them citizenship. “On the issue of granting citizenship to the minority communities of the neighbouring countries, only the Parliament can take a decision,” clarified a Home Ministry official.
However, the rule itself may fall foul of the JPC, for at the last meeting, the opposition members rejected passage of subordinate legislations by the Centre, when the main legislation Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is yet to be passed by the Parliament. The rule is that first the legislation is passed by the Parliament, then subordinate legislations are passed, argued Bhubaneswar Kalita, a member of the JPC.
“We are going to raise the issue in the JPC meeting,” said Kalita expressing his surprise at the Centre’s move.
Meanwhile, the list of business released by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs after an all-party meeting that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no mention about the pending Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which is currently with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). With this the possibility of the controversial Bill coming up for passage in the Parliament seems remote.
Addressing a press conference here today, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi criticised JPC chairman Rajendra Agrawal for supporting the latest amendment of the Citizenship Rules. Agrawal said that the amendment will not hamper the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
“The design of the BJP and RSS to create a Hindu state is being supported by the JPC chairman. It is unconstitutional and not in conformity with any law,” Gogoi said.
“We condemn the chairman of the JPC for extending his support at a time when his committee is considering the Bill. We urge the members of the committee to bring a privilege notice against the chairman for taking such a drastic step,” Gogoi demanded.
The KMSS leader said that they are in consultation with senior lawyer Prasant Bhusan to challenge the two notifications of September 7, 2015. These include Passport Entry into India Rules and Foreigners (Amendment) Order 2015. We saw that another notification regarding grant of Long Term Visa was also brought in 2016. We are going to oppose these in the Supreme Court,” he said.
“We have urged the AGP to quit the NDA government because it has introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. But they have delayed in taking a decision. When the BJP government in the State started attacking the regional party, then they responded. But it was a historical blunder and they should have quit earlier. But now that they have opposed the BJP’s move, we welcome their initiative,” he said regarding the shifting stand of the AGP.
The BJP wants to show that they are committed towards all Hindus and wants to create a vote bank of Hindu Bengalis for the future, Gogoi said.
Led by Akhil Gogoi, 70 organisations on Monday also staged a protest rally at Jantar Mantar here. The rally was joined by senior advocate Prasant Bhusan.