Legality and Implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
Sohan Bishnoi 7 Jul 2023

Legality and Implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019


This article analyses if the Citizenship Amendment Act,2019 is constitutionally valid as many argue it goes against the secular spirit of the Constitution since it aims to fast-track granting of Indian citizenship to people who belong to minority communities in our neighbouring countries which excludes Muslims. It is also important to analyse the Act’s impact on the influx of migrants into the country and the availability of opportunities in terms of employment, education, access to resources etc. for the citizens.

Keywords: constitutionally valid, secular spirit, minority communities, impact


The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 states that Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh where these communities are in minority and face religious persecution will be granted Indian citizenship if they entered India on or before December 31, 2014. Thus, as clause 6 of the said act states, instead of granting Indian citizenship after staying in India for not less than eleven years, migrants belonging to the said communities from the said countries would be granted citizenship for staying in India for not less than five years.

Those against the implementation of the Act argue that it violates secular provisions of the Constitution by excluding Muslims. The Act excludes from its ambit Muslims and fails to account for those belonging to the Shia and Ahmedia sects facing persecution in countries like Pakistan. One needs to understand the concept of minority religion concerning the demography of Pakistan. Ahmedias and Shias in Pakistan identify as Muslims and hence, there arises no question of religion-based violence against them. There can be sect-based violence against them, which is different from religious violence Thus, in a theocratic Islamic country like Pakistan, there arises no question of violence against certain sects within Islam based on religion. Another argument that one can advance in this respect is that Ahmadiyyas were at the forefront of the demand for the creation of Pakistan. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, an Ahmadiyya, was a prominent campaigner for Pakistan.[1] Thus, if India was divided on the basis of religion back in 1947, the very religion that demanded the creation of a separate nation cannot claim to have preferential treatment in granting Indian citizenship.

It is argued that the CAA is fundamentally unjust in its treatment of persons depending on their religions. As a result, it fails to fulfil the Supreme Court’s definition of arbitrariness under Article 14 of the constitution, which ensures equal treatment before the law and security inside India’s borders. However, the idea of equality does not imply that every rule must have a universal application. The idea of equality does not deprive the state of the authority to make classifications. If a legislation applies equally to members of a designated class, it is not subject to the charge of denial of equal protection because it does not apply to other people.


The amendment act does not give a religious character to the Citizenship Act. It just adds a layer to the act which speeds up the process of grant of citizenship to certain persecuted religious minorities in some of India’s neighbouring countries. It does not take away any person’s citizenship on a religious basis. It just aids in granting the same to a group as a whole with no impact on the ability of individuals to acquire Indian citizenship. Thus, the Act is meant for inclusion and not exclusion. Thus, the argument that the Act excludes and discriminates against Indian Muslims and that they will be at a disadvantage if this Act were implemented is fundamentally flawed.

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