Fri, 24 Jan 2020

New Delhi [India], Nov 9 (ANI): The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that makes it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to get Indian citizenship was introduced in Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Amit Shah after opposition members vociferously opposed it.

The Citizenship Amend Bill, 2019 was introduced after a division with 293 members voting in favour of the bill and 82 against it.

It took almost 90 minutes for the bill to be introduced in the House after Shah tabled it with Opposition members including Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, TMC's Saugata Roy, DMK member TR Baalu and RSP's NK Premachandran strongly opposing its introduction. They demanded the withdrawal of the bill.

The bill makes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, eligible for citizenship, who faced religious persecution, eligible for citizenship. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act.

Responding to concerns of members, Home Minister said that there is nothing in the bill against the minority community. "The bill is not even .001 per cent against minorities of the countries,' he said.

Shah, who faced constant interruptions from opposition members, said the bill does not violate any provision of the constitution.

Shah said that the Muslim community has not been named in the Bill. "The word `Muslim' is not there," he said.

He said there was need of the bill because the country was divided into religious lines during Congress rule.

"Who divided the country? Congress did it. We did not," he said.

The minister said many bills had been made on the basis of "reasonable classification" and does not violate provisions of the constitution.

"Religious persecution is a reasonable ground for classification. It (the bill) does not violate Article 14 of Constitution," he said.

He said non-Muslim minorities have faced such persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Shah said opposition members should not speak on the merits of the bill but state if the House has legislative competence to take it up.

Chowdhury said the bill was against Article 14 of Constitution which provides equality before the law.

Premachandran said the bill violates the basic structure of the constitution and also Article 25 and Article 26. He said the House has no legislative competence to discuss the bill and will be struck down.

IUML's PK Kunhalikutty said that bill excludes one community Roy cited provisions in the rules of procedure to oppose the bill. The bill is "diversionary, unconstitutional and violative of Article 14" he said.

Congress member Shashi Tharoor also opposed its introduction. (ANI)

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