Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee welcomes CAA notification, says good decision for Sikhs

AMRITSAR: The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has welcomed the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 after the centre notified rules on Monday.

"I welcome the decision which is taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a good decision for Sikhs whose religion was converted in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh," said Gurcharan Singh Grewal, spokesperson of SGPC.

Earlier the Congress opposed the CAA notification claiming that the BJP just wanted to polarise the elections.

Congress General Secretary in-charge Communications, Jairam Ramesh said, " Why are you considering only Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan? Why did you not include Sri Lanka? There are several such questions. But my question is why did you take 4 years and 3 months? Why did the rule not come earlier?...Now, when there is an atmosphere of elections in West Bengal and Assam to create polarisation there, this has been done...They have just one goal, polarisation at the tine of election...Hum Ram pujari hain, wo Ram vyapari hain. I have two 'Ram' in my name, we are all devotees of Lord Ram."

Meanwhile, Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 enable persons eligible under CAA-2019 to apply for the grant of Indian citizenship and applications will be submitted in a completely online mode for which a web portal has been provided by the government.

The Centre notified the rules for implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act on Monday before the Model Code of Conduct comes into force as dates will be announced for the general election. The Lok Sabha polls are expected to be held in April-May this year. The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament in December 2019.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugees who had sought shelter in India before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution in three neighbouring countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, of six minority communities there.

The CAA removes legal barriers to rehabilitation and citizenship. It gives a dignified life to refugees "who have suffered for decades". Citizenship rights will protect their cultural, linguistic, and social identity, officials said, adding that it will also ensure economic, commercial, free movement, and property purchase rights.

The notification stated that every application made by the applicant under sub-rule (1) shall have a declaration to the effect that the citizenship of the origin country shall stand renounced irrevocably in the event of his application being approved and that the person shall not raise any claim on it in the future.

The notification specified the details of the steps and process required to apply for eligible persons for Indian citizenship.

New rules have been inserted in the Citizenship Rules, 2009 after rule 10. Rule 10 A details the application for the grant of citizenship by registration or naturalisation by persons eligible under section 6B.

The application from a person for grant of citizenship by naturalisation should fulfil the qualifications for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule and is submitted in Form VIIIA which includes an affidavit verifying the correctness of the statements made in the application along with an affidavit from an Indian citizen testifying the character of the applicant and a declaration from the applicant that he has adequate knowledge of one of the languages as specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

The applicant shall be considered to have adequate knowledge of the concerned language if he can speak read or write that language.

The rules state that an application for registration or naturalisation under section 6B shall be submitted by the applicant in electronic form to the Empowered Committee through the District Level Committee as may be notified by the Central Government. On submission of the application, an acknowledgement in Form IX shall be generated electronically.

The District Level Committee, headed by the Designated Officer, as may be specified, shall verify the documents submitted by the applicant along with the application.

The Designated Officer shall administer to the applicant the oath of allegiance as specified in the Second Schedule to the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955) and thereafter, sign the oath of allegiance and forward the same in electronic form along with confirmation regarding verification of documents to the Empowered Committee.

In case an applicant fails to appear in person to subscribe to the application and take the oath of allegiance despite giving reasonable opportunities, the District Level Committee shall forward such application to the Empowered Committee for consideration of refusal.

The rules state the Empowered Committee referred to in rule 11A may scrutinise the application for grant of citizenship by registration or naturalisation submitted by an applicant under section 6B to ensure that the application is complete in all respects and that the applicant satisfies all the conditions laid down in section 6B.

On being satisfied after making such inquiry as it considers necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant that he is a fit and proper person to be registered or naturalised, as the case may be, the Empowered Committee may grant him the citizenship of India.

Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization is granted to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in nine states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Maharashtra. It's notable that authorities in districts of Assam and West Bengal, both politically sensitive regions on this matter, have not been empowered with these citizenship-granting authorities thus far.


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