The Bill amends the Citizenship bill, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.

  • Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.  
  • The change: The Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries. 
  • The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Bill makes illegal immigrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion.  This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality. 
  • The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law.  
  • This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no-parking zone).
  • Under the 1955 Act, an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder’s registration may be cancelled if he violates a law for which he is:
  • (i) sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, and
  • (ii) within five years of his OCI registration.  
  • The Bill adds another ground for cancelling OCI registration, which is a violation of any law of the country by an OCI.  

This means that even offences with:

  • (i) lesser penalties, or
  • (ii) which have been committed after five years of registration could be covered under the Bill.