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Even as protests over #CAA rage across India, a review of government orders (GO) by TOI shows that the government has been steadily placing hurdles in the way of Muslims seeking Indian citizenship since December 2014. #ConstitutionBench #NRC #SupremeCourt
The most significant GO is the October 22, 2018 amendment to the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950 and Foreigners Act, 1946, discriminating against Muslims and atheists for the grant of long-term visas (LTVs). The changed LTV regulations say..
, “Only members of minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, are eligible to apply for long-term visas.”
Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, a residential permit, or LTV, is one of the main requirements for getting Indian citizenship through naturalisation.
Denying LTVs to Muslim migrants, in effect, filters them out of the process from the start, regardless of the passage of the CAA this year.
Lawyers have now moved the Supreme Court seeking the repeal of the CAA and some of these government orders. The first hearing on the plea is scheduled in the Supreme Court on January 22.
The Joint Forum Against NRC has been working on this since 2016, when the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was introduced, said activist Prasenjit Bose, who's challenged the CAA and some of these government orders in the SC. “We realised foundation for CAA was laid long before."
Lawyers say the orders discriminate on grounds of religion and should be deemed unconstitutional as per Article 14 of the Constitution. “The LTV rules could have been separately challenged as being ultra vires the act,” said Sanjay Hegde, a Supreme Court lawyer.
@sanjayuvacha1 “Amendments to the Citizenship Act now seek to put parliamentary approval on what prima facie appear to be discriminatory rules. The mere existence of earlier discriminatory rules does not in any manner validate discriminatory legislation,” Hegde said.
“As human rights workers, we feel the government orders of 2015 and 2017 amending the passport rules are violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution,” said Teesta Setalvad, activist with the Centre for Justice and Peace.
"We demand that they be immediately repealed or amended to include all migrants, irrespective of religion, from all neighbouring countries," says @TeestaSetalvad
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren says “When it comes to the CAA-NRC-NPR, they have already said Aadhaar, voter ID cards and passports are not proof of citizenship, only ancestry is."
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren "When you place the burden of proof on a country with more than 270 million people living below the poverty line, it would be fair to surmise many do not have such documents,” said Nikhil Narendran, a lawyer.
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren "“Ahmadiyya Muslims from Pakistan and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar also face religious persecution, as do atheists in Bangladesh."
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren "There are other forms of persecution, such as ethnic persecution that Sri Lankan Tamils faced. There’s also the question of linguistic persecution, which led to Bengali-speaking Muslims fleeing to Assam in large numbers, giving rise to the current NRC exercise there.”
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren “Religious discrimination could turn into other rights violations. What happens to the 19 lakh people already declared non-citizens in Assam,” Prasenjit Bose asked.
@TeestaSetalvad @niknaren “Who is a citizen, who is not, who can be allowed to enter, who is barred? Would families be allowed to live together in detention camps? Would children be separated from parents? The govt wants us to worry over our future-- with no solution for Assam NRC problems"
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