Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 after a discussion and division last night. In all, 311 members voted in favour of the bill and 80 members opposed it.
The bill, among other things, seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians who migrated to India till the end of 2014 from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, due to reasons like persecutions.
However, the bill is free from certain tribal areas included in the Sixth Schedule and those falling under the Inner Line Permit Regime in the North Eastern States.
It amends the Citizenship Act 1955, the Passport Act 1920 and the Foreigners Act 1946 for implementation of its provisions.
Home Minister Amit Shah said, the bill does not violate any provisions of the Constitution including Article 14 that places all people equally before law.
He said, Article 14 does not rule out any amendment to the Citizens Act. Mr Shah repeated that religious oppressions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have expressly declared Islam as their State Religion, necessitated the bill.
He pointed out to the declining minority population in the three neighbouring countries. He said, the bill is not discriminatory against Muslims. He added, Manipur will be brought under the Inner Line Permit Regime for the Bill.
Lankan Tamils, he said, lakhs of them were granted Indian citizenship as per the Lal Bahadur Shastri-Sirimao Bandaranaike accord. He noted that all North Eastern states have supported the bill and their concerns have been addressed.
He re-emphasized that the NRC will be brought about at all costs.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, Mr Manish Tewari of Congress called the bill a monumental blunder, violating Article 14 of the Constitution.
Mr Rajendra Agarwal of BJP accused the Congress of opposing the bill by using selective interpretation of secularism with vote bank politics in mind.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed delight over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha. In a tweet last night, he said, the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate.