New Delhi, December 11
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, completing the legislative procedure for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Replying to a six-and-a-half-hour debate on the Bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said the legislation sought to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities in the three countries and not take away anybody’s citizenship.
He rejected the Opposition charge that the Bill was against Muslims and said they had nothing to fear.
The Bill was passed with 125 votes in favour and 99 against it, said Rajya Sabha sources. Besides BJP allies JD-U and SAD, the legislation was supported by
the AIADMK, BJD, TDP and the YSR-Congress.
The House rejected motions to send the Bill to a select panel with 124 members voting against it.
The House also rejected several amendments moved by Opposition members to the Bill, most by voice vote. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday. It will now go to the President for his assent.
On why persecuted minorities from countries such as Sri Lanka were not part of the legislation, Shah said Tamils from the island country had been given Indian citizenship in the past and the present law was to tackle a specific problem. To repeated questions of Muslims being left out, he said Muslims from other countries had the right to apply for Indian citizenship as per the existing rules. As many as 566 Muslims had been given citizenship, he said.
He attacked the Congress, saying statements by the party’s leaders match those of Pakistani leaders on not just the citizenship bill but also on scrapping of Article 370. Asserting that neither the Citizenship Bill, nor the previously passed legislation making practice of triple talaq punishable and the scrapping of Article 370 were anti-Muslim, he said the present legislation was to give citizenship and not to take away citizenship of anyone.
“Indian Muslims are citizens of the country and will remain so. Citizenship of Indian Muslims is not being taken away. Citizenship Bill is not to snatch anyone’s Indian citizenship. Muslims have no need to fear or worry,” he said.
Shah attacked the Congress for alleged double speak on the issue, saying the party had during its rule given Indian citizenship to 13,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan without raising a word about the same for other communities. — PTI
RSTV halted as Oppn members heckle Shah
Rajya Sabha TV briefly stopped telecast of live proceedings from the Upper House on the directions of Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu when Home Minister Amit Shah was heckled by Opposition members. PTI
Will be challenged in court: Singhvi
The Bill will be challenged in court in the near future, Congress’ Abhishek Singhvi said. Senior Cong leaders hinted the party may move the courts. Manish Tewari said the Bill was “unconstitutional” and would be challenged in SC. PTI
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