The Citizenship Amendment Bill proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday morning approved the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The clearance from the Union Cabinet was required as the government had incorporated some changes in the proposed legislation following concerns flagged by the North Eastern states.
The bill will now be tabled by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. According to television reports, Shah will table the bill in both Houses next week. The government is expecting to obtain a nod from the Parliament on the Bill before December 10. The ongoing Winter Session will culminate on December 13.
The bill proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The opposition parties are protesting against the bill, arguing citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion.
However, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at a meeting with the BJP MPs on Tuesday reject criticism of the bill. He said that the party has always worked to unite the nation. He noted that the three neighbouring countries — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Islamic nations and India wants to offer citizenship to those who face religious persecution there.
The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha’s approval. But the government did not introduce it in Rajya Sabha, apparently due to protests in the North East. The bill lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.
According to the previous bill, those who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, will benefit from the proposed legislation after it becomes an act. There is a possibility that the government may make changes to the cut-off date.
Last week, 12 non-BJP MPs belonging to the NE urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exclude the northeastern states from the purview of the proposed bill.