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"Just Say Persecuted Minorities": Expert had warned govt against naming religions in CAA

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted into a law on December 12

Saturday December 28, 2019 10:59 AM, ummid.com News Network

Expert on CAA

[Thousands protested against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 consecutivey for second Friday outside Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. (Photo: Twitter)]

New Delhi: Subhash Kashyap, constitutional expert and former secretary general of the Lok Sabha, had warned the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill two years ago that the legislation should omit any reference to religions and use only “persecuted minorities”.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted into a law on December 12 provides citizenship to individuals belonging to the specific minorities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Critics say religion could not be the basis to grant citizenship and any such provision is not only against the Indian constitution but also communal in nature.

"The way Union Minister Amit Shah repeatedly listed the 06 religions and 03 countries in his speeches inside and outside the parliament was intimidating and had clear communal overtone", critics said.

Subhash Kashyap had also warned the government against using any such classification and suggested that using the term "persecuted minorities" would have very well serve the government's purpose and would have included all those whom the legislation aimed to cover.

“My view was that it would have meant the same thing. I had said it to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. It was not necessary for them to specify Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, etc. They could have achieved the purpose without that, too,” Kashyap told The Indian Express.

Interestingly, echoing similar concerns a number of MPs both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabh during the debate on Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) had asked the government to replace the list of religions with the term "persecuted minorities".

Critics also accused the ruling dispensation of having a political motive behind listing the six religions and excluding Muslims.

“Why did BJP bring such a Bill? It was purposefully drafted in a way that they can use it as a political tool,” Sushmita Dev, Congress leader from Assam who was part of the JPC constituted during the 16th Lok Sabha and submitted a dissent note, said.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, after which it was referred to the JPC. After the committee submitted its report, CAB 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 but kept pending for consideration by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill lapsed after the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved for the elections in May.

The Bill was brought again in the winter session and passed by the Parliament on December 11 and enacted into a law on the next day.

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