Citizenship Act Rules “under preparation”, Centre gives time till July

New Delhi: The centre has given itself time – till July 9 at least – to frame and implement rules relating to the controversial citizenship law, amendments to which were passed in December 2019 amid unprecedented chaos in parliament and violent protests across the country.

In a response to a question in parliament today – by Congress Lok Sabha MP VK Sreekandan – the Home Ministry said that the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, had been in force since January 10, 2020, but rules were “under preparation”.

“The Committees on Subordinate Legislation, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have granted extension of time up to April 9 and July 9, respectively, to frame these rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019,” the Home Ministry said.

Mr Sreekandan had asked: “… whether it is a fact that the Government is considering to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act very soon” and “… whether the rules under CAA are still under preparation despite the fact that the said Bill was passed more than a year ago”.

The Home Ministry also told a parliamentary panel that a decision on the national rollout of the equally controversial NRC (National Register of Citizens) was still pending.

The panel, headed by the Congress’ Anand Sharma, pointed to concerns expressed by members of the public over the nature and safety of data collected for such an exercise.

In December last year Home Minister Amit Shah had said the process of framing rules had been delayed because of the pandemic, and that it would be taken up once the vaccination drive began.

Parliamentary rules say “statutory rules, regulations and bye-laws will be framed within a period of six months from the date on which the relevant statute came into force”.

It also says that in case of delays the concerned ministries and departments “should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation, stating reasons for such extension”, and that these extensions cannot be for more than three months at a time.

The CAA triggered protests in several states, including Assam and Bengal, both of which are due to hold Assembly elections in the coming weeks and months. Bombs were thrown and trains were set on fire in Bengal, and a strong student-led agitation challenged the CAA in Assam.

The epicentre of those protests was Delhi; the national capital witnessed pitched battles over four days in March, in which over 50 people were killed and hundreds injured. It also saw a huge sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh, which was only broken up in March last year because of the pandemic.

The CAA triggered protests in several states, including Assam and Bengal, both of which are due to hold Assembly elections in the coming weeks and months.

With input from PTI

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