New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday (December 9) rebutted the Opposition's argument that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill runs contrary to the principles of equality and secularism under the constitution.
Amit Shah said, "The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill wouldn't have been needed if the Congress had not allowed partition on basis of religion. It was the Congress that divided the country on religious lines, not us," while responding to Congress members' allegation that the proposed law was against Muslims. The Congress party is opposed to the tabling of the bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Home Minister said that the proposed law is not a violation of any article of the constitution and made a "reasonable classification", insisting that it was "not even 0.001 per cent" against India's minorities.
He said, "Reasonable classification is done. I can discuss laws from across the world that talk about equality. If this is how we want to define equality, why doesn't it apply to the minorities we are referring to? Please explain how minorities get special quota and status for things like education."
Notably, the Lok Sabha voted in favour of introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill despite protests from Opposition which labelled the legislation “regressive”. The bill was introduced with 293 Ayes and 82 Nos.
The Lower House witnessed a war of words between Home Minister Amit Shah and the Opposition. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called it “nothing but a targeted legislation over minority people of our country”, adding "it violates the fundamental principles of the Constitution and is against the preamble.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Through this bill, Indian citizenship will be provided to the members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from the three countries to India till December 31, 2014, to put an end to them being treated as illegal immigrants in the country.