Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)

Citizenship in India

Citizenship is the legal status and relationship between an individual and a state that entails specific rights and duties.

  • Citizenship in India is listed in the Union List under the Constitution and thus is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
  • The Constitution of India, on 26th January 1950, established categories of people eligible for Indian citizenship.
  • It also granted Parliament the authority to regulate additional aspects of citizenship, such as granting and renunciation.
  • Under this authority, Parliament enacted the Citizenship Act of 1955.
  • The Act specifies that citizenship may be acquired in India through five methods: by birth in India, by descent, through registration,

by naturalization (extended residence in India), and by incorporation of territory into India.

  • Children born in India to ambassadors are not eligible for Indian citizenship based solely on their birth.
Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

About the Act

  • The Citizenship Act, of 1955 was amended in 2019 to grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
  • Under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), migrants who entered India on 31st December 2014, and had suffered “religious persecution or fear or religious persecution” in their country of origin would be made eligible for accelerated citizenship.
  • It exempts the members of the six communities from any criminal case under the Foreigners Act, of 1946 and Passport Act, of 1920 which specify punishment for entering the country illegally and staying on expired visas and permits.


  • Under the Citizenship Act, of 1935, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, as well as for 11 of the previous 14 years.
  • The 2019 amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.


  • Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will not apply to regions mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which include Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
  • Additionally, areas covered by the Inner Line Permit system (ILP) are also exempt from the CAA.
    • The concept of Inner Line separates the tribal-majority hills of the Northeast from the plains areas. To enter and stay in these areas, an Inner Line Permit (ILP) is needed.
    • Currently, Inner Line Permit regulates visit of all persons, including Indian citizens, to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
  • This exclusion is intended to protect the interests of tribal and indigenous communities in the North-Eastern region, ensuring that individuals residing in these areas cannot seek citizenship under the provisions of the CAA, 2019.

Concerns Related to the CAA 2019

Constitutional Challenge: 

  • Critics argue that it violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on religion.
  • The CAA’s provision of granting citizenship based on religion is seen as discriminatory.

Potential for Disenfranchisement: 

  • The CAA is often linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a proposed nationwide exercise to identify illegal immigrants.
  • Critics fear that a combination of CAA and a faulty NRC could disenfranchise several citizens who are unable to prove their documentation.
  • More than 19.06 lakh people were left out of the final draft of the Assam NRC released in August 2019.

Impact on Assam Accord:

  • In Assam, there is a specific concern regarding the compatibility of the CAA with the Assam Accord, 1985.
  • The Accord established criteria for determining citizenship in Assam, including specific cut-off dates for residency.
  • The CAA’s provision of a different timeline for granting citizenship could conflict with the provisions of the Assam Accord, leading to legal and political complications.

Secularism and Social Cohesion: 

  • The CAA’s focus on religion as a criterion for citizenship eligibility has raised broader concerns about its impact on secularism and social cohesion in India.
  • Critics argue that privileging certain religious communities over others undermines the secular principles upon which the Indian state was founded and could exacerbate communal tensions.

Exclusion of few Religious Communities: 

The exclusion of certain religious communities from the CAA and its subsequent rules, such as Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetan Buddhists, who faced religious persecution in their home countries, raises concerns.

Related Links:

The Places of Worship Act 1991Right To Education (RTE Act) 2009
Right to Information (RTI) ActForeign Contribution Regulation Act 1976