Indian Citizenship (Amendment) Bill gets presidential assent, becomes act

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According to an official notification, the act comes into effect with its publication in the official gazette on Thursday

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an act.

According to an official notification, the act comes into effect with its publication in the official gazette on Thursday, reports The Times of India (TOI).

According to the act, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabah on Wednesday, and earlier by the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Act says the refugees of the six communities will be giv Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of earlier requirement of 11 years.

It also proposes to give immunity to refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants.

According to the legislation, it will not be applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura as included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and in the areas covered under the Inner Line Permit, notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

However, a large section of people and organizations in the Northeast, especially in Assam and Tripura, have opposed the act, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

Protests against the legislation have intensified since Monday in the Northeast.

Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, Dibrugarh, Te zpur and Dhekiajuli. Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Gol aghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, officials said.

The Indian Union Muslim League moved the Indian Supreme Court challenging the bill, saying it violates the fundamental Right to Equality of the Constitution and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion.