By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, which took up the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003 had received representations that citizenship should be granted to Bangladeshi minority refugees but the ministry had stated that the country was unable to accommodate “additional burden of refugees” and that there was “no justification” for citizenship to “migrants for economic reasons”.
The 107th report of the Committee, as approved by various Congress MPs as well as Committee Chairman Pranab Mukherjee, gave its nod to the Centre’s decision.
Taking up the representations on granting citizenship to migrants, the Committee reported that the Home Ministry had averred that the “situation, which prevailed in 1971 was completely different from the present situation in India. India has large population and land-population ratio has decreased over the period of time. In such a situation, the country is unable to take additional burden of refugees from other countries. Keeping in view the economic and population reasons, citizenship cannot be granted to the refugees who have come on or after March 25, 1971”.
The Ministry also observed “that it is pertinent to mention that in the recent years people from neighbouring countries are coming to India more for economic reasons rather than as refugees” and as “people are coming as illegal migrants for economic reasons, there is no justification to grant them citizenship in India”.
The Bill, brought in by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government on May 9, 2003, was referred to the Committee on May 28, 2003 for examination with an instruction to report by the first week of the 199th session (Monsoon Session) of the Rajya Sabha.
The report, approved by 40 members including the Chairman of the committee, was presented to the Rajya Sabha on December 12, 2003 and was laid on the table of the Lok Sabha on the same day.
In its report, the Committee had recommended that the Bill be passed in the light of its observations and recommendations on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003 which sought to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make provisions for the grant of Overseas Citizens of India and to introduce a scheme for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India, and for this purpose, National Identity Cards be issued.
Of the 40 members who approved the Bill, 13 were from the Rajya Sabha and 27 from the Lok Sabha.
The MPs from the Rajya Sabha included Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Hansraj Bhardwaj, Motilal Vora, and Ambika Soni, BJP’s B.P. Singhal, Samajwadi Party leader Janeshwar Mishra, AIADMK’s V. Maitreyan, RJD’s Lalu Prasad, Assam’s left-wing leader Drupad Borgohain, CPI-M’s A. Vijayaraghavan and BJP’s Ram Jethmalani, Pramod Mahajan and L.M. Singhvi.
The lawmakers from Lok Sabha comprised Begum Noor Bano, M.O.H. Farook, K. Karunakaran, C.K. Jaffer Sharief, Buta Singh, Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi (Congress), Rajen Gohain, Vinay Katiyar, Manabendra Shah, Lal Bihari Tiwari, Ram Nagina Mishra, Anadi Sahu, Kishan Singh Sangwan, Prakash Mani Tripathi (BJP), P.A. Sangma (NCP), Ramjilal Suman (Samajwadi Party), Simranjit Singh Mann (Akali Dal-Mann), Adhi Sankar (DMK), Swadesh Chakraborty, Subodh Roy (CPI-M), Uttamrao Dhikale (MNS), Brahma Nand Mandal (CPI), P.H. Pandian (AIADMK), Bhuma Nagi Reddy (TDP), Abdul Rashid Shaheen (NC), and Capt. Inder Singh (retd), (INLD).
The Committee considered the Bill in six sittings held on June 25, July 15, October 15 and 29 and December 2 and 10, 2003. It took up clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill in its sitting held on December 2, 2003. It considered and adopted the draft Report on the Bill in its sitting held on December, 10, 2003.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])