The Opposition in Parliament heaped criticism on the much-debated Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, after the Union Cabinet approved a draft law that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan if they have faced religious prosecution. The legislation is likely to be taken up by the Parliament in the ongoing Winter Session.
Slammed by the Opposition as divisive and communal, the bill is a key part of the BJP's ideological project as it proposes citizenship to non-Muslim, mostly Hindus, refugees living in India and will protect them from the nation-wide NRC drive the central government is planning to identify illegal immigrants.
On Wednesday evening, ANI reported that states where Inner Line Permit (ILP) is applicable and sixth schedule tribal areas in the four northeastern states are exempted from Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Opposing the proposed law, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor spoke to reporters in Parliament premises on Wednesday and said that it undermines the fundamental tenets of the Constitution.
"I think the bill is fundamentally unconstitutional because the basic idea of India has been violated in the bill. Those who believe that religion should determine nationhood... that was the idea of Pakistan, they created Pakistan. We have always argued that our idea of nation was what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehruji, Maluana Azad, Dr Ambedkar have said, that religion cannot determine nationhood," Tharoor said.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also echoed Tharoor's objections, saying that the bill was "unacceptable and unconstitutional" as citizenship cannot be determined by or linked to religion.
"It is simple. Citizenship cannot be determined by or linked to religion. This is what makes the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) unacceptable and unconstitutional. The CAB is aimed at destroying the basis of India. India's citizens are its citizens, irrespective of what faith they follow or don't, what they eat, what work they do, their caste, creed, place of residence, gender or colour of skin. No to Citizenship Amendment Bill," CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill has reportedly been cleared by the Cabinet. But it must be withdrawn
as it isn’t a mere change in the statute. If passed, it will fundamentally alter the character of the Indian Republic. Our dissent note earlier: https://t.co/NynOy73Dbvpic.twitter.com/ECwDtbHO6T
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) December 4, 2019
Citizenship Amendment Bill is nothing but a cover up for BJP’s errors with NRC. It is likely to open up old wounds of ethnic, religious and linguistic differences in Northeast India. A region which has lost two decades of peace due to conflict is being pushed to instability.
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) December 4, 2019
Apart from the leaders of Opposition parties, journalists and activists also slammed the Centre on the development.
I have no doubt in my mind that Citizenship Amendment Bill is terribly wrong for the interests of Assam, Assamese & North-Easterners.
It’s fundamentally flawed.
History will blame today’s Assam leadership for failing to stand up for the state’s interests.
— Shantanu N Sharma (@shantanunandan2) December 4, 2019
Citizenship Amendment Bill will change fabric of india once again . To pick up only one religion and ask them to stay away from india is harmful for ethos of india and indianness, any person irrespective of religion, should be considered for citizenship.
— Sahil Joshi (@sahiljoshii) December 4, 2019
Today the Union Cabinet cleared the #CitizenshipAmendmentBill which, along with the #NRC, seeks to legalise citizenship based on religion. If Parliament passes this bill, India ceases to be the constitutional democracy that it has been since Independence.
— Mitali Saran (@mitalisaran) December 4, 2019
Meanwhile, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that the countries mentioned in the bill — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — are predominantly Islamic nations and India wants to offer citizenship to those who face religious persecution.
MHA briefs Rajya Sabha on issue of mob lynching
Amid demands by Rajya Sabha MPs for a separate law to curb mob lynching, Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that the government has set up a committee to suggest necessary amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to deal with the issue.
Responding to a series of queries during Question Hour, Shah said he has also written to all state chief ministers and governors to send recommendations on making changes to IPC and CrPC after consulting with experienced investigating officers and public prosecutors.
"Under the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), a committee has been set up to make changes in the IPC and CrPC. We will start working on amendments after receiving recommendations from the committee," Shah said in the Upper House.
He said the government will keep in mind Supreme Court orders while making changes to the IPC and CrPC.
On the issue of lynching, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said there is "no separate" definition for such incidents under the existing IPC. Lynching incidents can be dealt with under Section 300 and 302 of IPC. Section 302 provides that whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine. Offence of murder is a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence, Rai said.
Members also questioned the home ministry on the issue of development in Left Wing Extremism-affected areas across the country. In response, Rai said that projects like programmes for rural development and mobile towers in rural areas had been started. "68 skill development centres sanctioned out of which 55 have been completed and the construction of schools for tribals has been initiated. We are working together with state governments," he said.
"Resettlement of citizens is the purview of the state, but we are still undertaking the necessary steps to assist the state government with development policies and rehabilitation," he was quoted as saying.
A Q raised on devl. in Naxal affected areas
MoS, Home Affairs:
Rural devl. progs, road devl., mobile towers in rural areas for tribals started
68 skill devl. centres sanctioned out of which 55 completed
Schools construction initiated for tribals
Working together with state govt
— Maadhyam (@_maadhyam_) December 4, 2019
RS passes Unauthorised Colonies Bill for Delhi
Parliament passed a bill to grant ownership rights to residents living in 1,731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, after the legislation was taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019 was passed by a voice vote in Upper House.
It was already passed in Lok Sabha on 28 November.
The bill, moved by Minister of State, Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, states that there has been a phenomenal increase in the population of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in the last few decades owing to migration and other factors. However, it says, the development of planned housing colonies has not kept pace with the requirements of burgeoning population which resulted in increase of unauthorised colonies.
In view of the socio-economic conditions of the residents of the unauthorised colonies and ground realities, it is desirable to recognise and confer rights of ownership or transfer or mortgage to the residents of such colonies, the legislation said.
In the Upper House, the JD(U) and Naveen Patnaik-led BJD spoke in support of the bill, calling it "pro-poor", while leaders from the Congress and CPM opposed the bill. K Somaprasad of the CPM questioned the timing of introducing the Bill, a few months ahead of the Delhi Assembly election. He said it was "drafted in view" of the polls.
BJP MP Vijay Goel lauded the legislation and criticised the Arvind Kejriwal state government for failing to fulfill their promise of regularising the colonies. His criticism caused an uproar from the Opposition, specifically AAP's MP Sanjay Singh.
On the accusation that the government was bringing in the law with an eye on the upcoming Assembly election, Goel said, "This nation has an election every few months, when can we bring a bill? We can bring bill for one nation, one election, but you aren't ready."
Cabinet approves Data Protection Bill
The government on Wednesday approved the Personal Data Protection Bill that will spell out a framework for handling of personal data including its processing by public and private entities. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Bill will be introduced in Parliament during the current Winter Session. The Bill is likely to contain broad guidelines on collection, storage and processing of personal data, consent of individuals, penalties and compensation, code of conduct and an enforcement model.
Last week, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government will soon introduce a robust and balanced Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament, adding that India will never compromise on data sovereignty.
Additionally, Maadhyam reported that an MP in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday also moved a motion and demanded amendments in RTI rules, framed under amended RTI Act.
No agreed Line of Actual Control with China causing incursions: Rajnath Singh
After Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised the issue of Chinese intrusion in Indian borders in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that there were "perceptional differences" between India and China on border issues. However, he asserted that the Indian Army is fully alert and the border is secured.
Responding to Chowdhury, Singh said, "I would like to assure the House that our forces are vigilant and protecting our borders. Our forces are fully capable of facing any challenge, nobody should have a doubt about it. There is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. Due to different perceptions of the LAC, sometimes incidents of incursion occur, I accept it. Sometimes the Chinese Army enters here and sometimes our people go over there."
Meanwhile, Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram is scheduled to attend the Parliament session on Thursday, after he was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Wednesday in the corruption cases filed against him by the ED and CBI.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 04, 2019 23:59:09 IST