Govt withdraws Citizenship (Amendment) Bill from Lok Sabha

Government on Thursday withdrew the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2014, introduced in the winter session, from Lok Sabha saying that a fresh legislation will be brought soon seeking to merge Person of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizenship of India schemes apart from other issues.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 20:23 PM IST

New Delhi: Government on Thursday withdrew the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2014, introduced in the winter session, from Lok Sabha saying that a fresh legislation will be brought soon seeking to merge Person of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizenship of India schemes apart from other issues.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the bill has to be withdrawn since an ordinance was issued in January merging the PIO and OCI schemes.

"The ordinance was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that OCI and PIO cards would be merged by January 7," Rijiju said amidst protest from opposition leaders, including TMC leader Saugata Roy.

Roy objected to the government withdrawing the bill and sought an explanation for it.

The ordinance was promulgated on January 6 aimed at giving PIOs benefits like life-long visa and exemption from appearing before the local police station on every visit.

The ordinance fulfils Modi's assurance in New York to Indian diaspora whom he had promised a merger of the two schemes. He had also announced grant of lifetime visa to PIOs.

Subsequently, Modi had said the Home Ministry was working on the new programme that will merge the PIO and OCI schemes and that instructions had been issued to embassies and consulates that apart from special circumstances, US nationals should get visas for 10 years.

The decision to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 was taken after a large number of complaints were received from PIOs, who often complained of the hassle of visits to local police stations and stringent visa norms that debarred them from buying property in India, in comparison to those holding OCI card.

PIO cardholders were now eligible for only 15-year visas in comparison to lifelong visas given to those having OCI cards.

It will also do away with the clause of foreigners who marry Indians to continuously stay in the country for a period of one year before they get Indian citizenship. The amendment will give foreigners a relief of 30 days in a year when they can travel outside the country.