Thirty-one district magistrates in nine states have been empowered by the central government to grant citizenship to people belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh under the Citizenship Act, 1955. This statement was made by the Union minister of state for home, Nityanand Rai.
Further Rai said through a written reply in Lok Sasbha on Tuesday (February 7), delegating this power to the DM is aimed at speedy disposal of the citizenship applications of such foreigners, as decisions can now be taken at the district level itself after examining each case.
These districts have been chosen keeping in view the needs of applicants, he added.
Also read: Need to decide on constitutional validity of Citizenship Act Sec 6A: SC
“The central government, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 16 of The Citizenship Act, 1955, has delegated its power to grant citizenship by registration under Section 5 and by naturalisation under Section 6 of The Citizenship Act, 1955 to the Collectors of 31 districts… for speedy disposal of citizenship applications of person(s) belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh namely, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian,” Rai said.
The 31 districts are in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi.
Also read: Centre to grant citizenship to minorities of Pak, Bdesh, Afghan under Citizenship Act, 1955
The move to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and not under the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is highly significant.
The CAA also provides for granting Indian citizenship to these non-Muslims coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, the rules under the CAA have not been framed by the government yet and hence no one has been granted Indian citizenship under it so far.