A resolution against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed in December 2019 by Parliament of India would be tabled at the European Parliament in Brussels on January 29, 2020, for discussion and debate.
The resolution which was moved last week by 154-members of the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament called the CAA a “discriminatory” and “dangerously divisive” move.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has written to the President of the European Union parliament pointing out that such a resolution would set an “unhealthy precedent”. The Speaker wrote: “It is inappropriate for a legislature to pass judgement on another, a practice that can be surely misused for vested interests”.
He adds, the citizenship law has been passed with due deliberation in both houses of parliament. This Act, according to the Speaker, provides for granting easier citizenship to those who have been subjected to religious persecution in our immediate neighbourhood. “It is not aimed at taking away citizenship from anybody”, the letter, addressed to the President of the EU Parliament, read.
The resolution warned that the “CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India” and has the potential to create “the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
Referring to India’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and 1992 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the resolution condemns India’s failure to respect internationally recognised principles.
Article 15 of the UDHR states that ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’ and that ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality’; and ICCPR casts an obligation on the states to prevent deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Whereas, the 1992 United Nations Declaration, to which India is a signatory, establishes the obligation on parties to protect the existence and identity of religious minorities within their territories and to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that this is achieved.
The resolution further notes that India needs “to ensure that people belonging to minority groups, including religious minorities, may exercise their human rights without discrimination and in full equality before the law”.
It calls upon the European Union and its Member States to use all forums to urge the Government of India “to open up to a constructive human rights dialogue and to end the crackdown on individuals and organisations working on human rights” in India.
Earlier in a statement, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the CAA ‘fundamentally discriminatory’ in nature. The statement stated that ‘while the goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome’, however, it emphasised that Indian authorities should accomplish it through a non-discriminatory ‘robust national asylum system’.
The anti-CAA protests triggered across India and around the world since it was passed in the Parliament of India on December 11, 2019. From the last six-weeks, protestors are calling the Government of India to uphold the secular spirit of the Constitution.