Government Lacks Provision to Track Citizenship Amendment Act Applications

The government lacks a mechanism to track CAA applications, raising concerns about transparency and the law's impact on vulnerable communities. The absence of data fuels the ongoing controversy surrounding the contentious legislation.

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Government Lacks Provision to Track Citizenship Amendment Act Applications

Government Lacks Provision to Track Citizenship Amendment Act Applications

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revealed that the government does not have a provision to maintain records of applications received under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). This information came to light in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by a resident of Amravati, Maharashtra, who sought details about the total number of people who have applied for citizenship since the CAA rules were notified on March 11, 2021.

According to the MHA's response, the Citizenship Act of 1955, the CAA of 2019, and their associated rules do not include provisions for maintaining records of citizenship applications. This lack of a tracking mechanism raises questions about the government's ability to accurately assess the impact and implementation of the controversial legislation.

The CAA, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2019, enables citizenship for undocumented migrants belonging to six non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. The act also reduces the period to qualify for citizenship from 11 years to 5 years for these communities.

The implementation of the CAA has been met with widespread protests across the country, with critics arguing that the law discriminates against Muslims and violates the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest in Delhi became a symbol of resistance, with protesters reciting poems like Faiz Ahmed Faiz's 'Hum Dekhenge' and Hussain Haidry's 'Tum Dekhogey' as a form of peaceful dissent.

The government's lack of a mechanism to track CAA applications has further fueled concerns about the potential impact on millions of Muslims, lower castes, and economically disadvantaged individuals who may be rendered ineligible for government benefits and unable to exercise their right to vote.

Why this matters: The absence of a provision to maintain records of CAA applications raises questions about transparency, accountability, and the government's ability to effectively implement the legislation. It also highlights the ongoing controversy surrounding the CAA and its potential to disenfranchise vulnerable communities in India.

The total number of people who would benefit from the CAA remains unknown, with conflicting estimates provided by government officials and opposition leaders. While Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed that 'lakhs and crores' of people would benefit, a Trinamool Congress MP had mentioned that around 31,000 people would be the immediate beneficiaries. The lack of clarity on the number of potential applicants further complicates the already contentious debate surrounding the CAA.

Key Takeaways

  • Govt does not maintain records of CAA applications, per RTI response.
  • CAA enables citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from 3 countries.
  • CAA implementation faces widespread protests over discrimination concerns.
  • Lack of application tracking raises transparency, accountability issues.
  • Conflicting estimates on potential beneficiaries complicate CAA debate.