Amidst veiled threats from few opposition-ruled states that they will not be implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Union government is likely to make the entire process of granting citizenship under the act online to bypass state governments, reports PTI.
According to the reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs is considering the option of doing away with the present procedure of routing applications for citizenship through the district magistrate in view of opposition expressed by several states ruled by opposition parties.
“We are thinking of designating a new authority instead of the district magistrate and make the entire process of application, examination of documents and granting Indian citizenship online,” a Home Ministry official told the news agency.
If the process of granting citizenship becomes completely online, then there will be no interference from a state government at any level.
Also, the home ministry officials are of the opinion that the state governments have no power to reject the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act as the legislation was enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.
“The states have no power to deny implementation of a central law which is in the Union List,” the top official from the Home Ministry said.
Opposing centre’s move, the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday had passed a resolution demanding to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act. The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF supported the resolution while the BJP’s lone MLA and former Union minister O Rajagopal’s was the only dissenting voice in the one-day special session.
Apart from Kerala, a few other chief ministers, including those of West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, have already declared that the law is “unconstitutional” and stated that they will not implement the law in their respective states.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said, “In your (BJP) manifesto, instead of development issues, you have put in promise to divide the country. Why will citizenship be on the basis of religion? I will not accept this. We dare you…”.
She had added, “You can pass laws in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha forcefully because you have the number. But we will not let you divide the country”.
Echoing similar sentiments, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had said his government would not let the legislation to be implemented in his state. “We have a majority in the assembly and will block the bill,” Singh said.
Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had also claimed that act was clearly unconstitutional. “Whatever decision is made at the Congress party forum on the bill, will be applied in Chhattisgarh,” he said.
Another Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh had said, “Whatever stand the Congress party has taken on the Citizenship Amendment Act, we will follow that. Do we want to be a part of a process that sows seeds of divisiveness?”
Scam-accused senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who is currently out on bail had also said the bill was a “brazen assault” on the fundamental ideas enshrined in the Constitution and the fate of the law will be decided in the Supreme Court.
The Citizenship Amendment act seeks to give Indian citizenship to the members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from three neighbouring Islamic countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh after facing religious persecution.
The Act states the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of earlier requirement of 11 years. The Act also proposes to give immunity to such refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants. The cut-off date for granting citizenship will be December 31, 2014.