CAA Rules go against Equality, Federalism, and India’s Constitution


03:51 AM

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CAA Rules go against Equality, Federalism, and India’s Constitution Blog Image

Why in News?

  • India has been grappling with contentious debates surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since its enactment in 2019.
  • The recent notification of the Rules under the CAA by the Union government has reignited discussions regarding the Act's implications for India's constitutional secularism.
  • Amid these debates it is important to analyse the provisions of the CAA, its implications on citizenship, and the broader socio-political ramifications it entails.

Perceived Controversial Provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act

  • Selective Approach of Citizenship
    • The CAA2019 introduced amendments to India's Citizenship Act of 1955, fundamentally altering the criteria for granting Indian citizenship.
    • The most contentious aspect of the CAA lies in its selective approach to citizenship, which discriminates based on religious identity.
    • Specifically, the Act grants expedited citizenship to undocumented immigrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, while explicitly excluding Muslims from eligibility.
  • Religious Criterion of Citizenship
    • This religious criterion has been the subject of intense debate and criticism, both domestically and internationally.
    • Critics argue that by singling out specific religious groups for preferential treatment, the CAA violates the secular principles enshrined in India's Constitution.
    • Secularism is a foundational tenet of India's democratic ethos, emphasising the state's neutrality in matters of religion and guaranteeing equal rights and protections to all citizens, regardless of their faith.
  • Discriminatory Nature of the CAA
    • The discriminatory nature of the CAA is particularly troubling given India's diverse religious landscape and history of religious pluralism.
    • The Act's exclusion of Muslims from its purview has been perceived as a direct affront to the principles of religious tolerance and inclusivity that have long defined India's national identity.
    • The exclusionary nature of the CAA has sparked widespread protests across India, with demonstrators condemning the Act as discriminatory and unconstitutional.
    • These protests have highlighted the deep divisions within Indian society over issues of citizenship, identity, and secularism.
    • They have also underscored the importance of upholding constitutional principles and safeguarding the rights of all citizens, irrespective of their religious affiliation. 

Potential Implications of the Notified Rules

  • Streamlining the Citizenship Process
    • One of the primary implications of the notified Rules is the streamlining of the citizenship application process.
    • By laying down specific procedures and documentation requirements, the Rules aim to provide clarity and consistency in assessing eligibility for citizenship under the CAA.
    • This standardisation of procedures can potentially expedite the citizenship-granting process, enabling eligible individuals to secure legal status more efficiently.
  • Lenient Requirements for Proof of Nationality and Residence
    • A notable aspect of the notified Rules is the leniency in requirements for proof of nationality and residence.
    • The Rules list a range of documents that can be submitted to establish nationality, including identity documents issued by the governments of specified countries or any other government authorities.
    • Similarly, proof of residence in India before December 31, 2014, can be established through various documents, such as visas, immigration stamps, or government-issued certificates.
  • Centralisation of Authority
    • Another implication of the notified Rules is the centralisation of authority in the citizenship-granting process.
    • Whereas previously, applications for citizenship were made to district collectors, the empowered committee formed by the Union government is now responsible for processing applications under the CAA.
    • This centralisation consolidates power at the national level and diminishes the role of local authorities in decision-making, potentially reducing accountability and oversight at the grassroots level.
  • Legal and Constitutional Implications
    • The notified Rules are likely to face legal and constitutional challenges, particularly regarding their compatibility with India's constitutional principles and international legal standards.
    • Critics argue that the CAA and its accompanying Rules violate the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law (Article 14) by discriminating based on religion.
    • The leniency in requirements for proof of nationality and residence may also raise questions about procedural fairness and due process rights under the Constitution.
  • Challenges to Constitutional Principles
    • The Act's violation of Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law, underscores the discriminatory nature of its provisions.
    • Furthermore, the CAA's omission of persecuted minorities from other neighbouring countries raises questions about the Act's selective humanitarianism and underlying motives.
  • Internal Contradictions and Regional Discontent
    • The implementation of the CAA has exposed internal contradictions within India's citizenship laws, particularly evident in the case of Assam.
    • The discrepancy between Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the provisions of the CAA has fuelled discontent among local communities and further complicated the citizenship landscape.

Way Forward: Toward Inclusive Solutions

  • While the objective of protecting persecuted individuals is commendable, a more inclusive approach is imperative.
  • Granting refugee status to all persecuted individuals, irrespective of religious affiliation, aligns with international humanitarian norms and upholds India's commitment to secularism.
  • Additionally, ratifying international conventions such as the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees would demonstrate India's dedication to protecting vulnerable populations.


  • The CAA and its accompanying Rules pose significant challenges to India's constitutional secularism and ethos of inclusivity.
  • By prioritising specific religious communities for citizenship and disregarding the broader humanitarian concerns, the CAA undermines the foundational principles upon which India's democracy stands.
  • Addressing these concerns requires a revaluation of the Act's provisions and a commitment to upholding constitutional values of equality and non-discrimination.

Q1) What are the citizenship criteria in India?

Citizenship in India is primarily determined by birth, descent, registration, or naturalisation, as outlined in the Citizenship Act of 1955. Additionally, the government may grant citizenship through special provisions or by discretion in certain cases.

Q2) What are the key provisions for citizenship in India?

The key provisions include citizenship by birth, citizenship by descent (if one or both parents are Indian citizens), citizenship by registration (for certain categories of people), and citizenship by naturalisation (for immigrants who have resided in India for a specified period and fulfil other criteria).

Source: The Indian Express