The Veil of Discrimination: Unpacking India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and Its Echoing Impact
Law Student, 4th Year, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University.
India has long been praised as a beacon of secularism and democracy amid a world that is frequently characterised by instability and theocracy. However, if we focus on the developments taking place within our country, the illusion of secularism starts to disappear, exposing the harsh reality. Due to several religiously driven actions that disproportionately affect its Muslim minority, India is currently in the news on a global scale. The Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019, a piece of legislation that has sparked a heated discussion about the very nature of Indian identity, is at the epicenter of this storm. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, which is currently in power in India, supports this action as a response to the discourse on Indian identity becoming ever-narrower.
Some see this change as the first legal foundation establishing India as the Hindu homeland. Hindu nationalism has steadily grown over time in India, becoming a movement with traction and a home inside the BJP. This right-wing powerhouse isn’t afraid to make decisions that have far-reaching effects and frequently have a negative impact on the nation’s minority Muslim community. The Citizenship Amendment Act, which is now in effect, calls into question the secularism and religious freedom values that India has long valued. It casts serious doubt on the country’s future course and calls into question the very foundation of its secular principles and values.
Our in-depth review of the CAA includes a holistic evaluation of its compliance with both international and domestic legal standards. On the global stage, we carefully examine how the CAA comports with India’s obligations under numerous treaties and agreements. I seek to provide a comprehensive understanding of the CAA’s international implications by applying a range of international standards and examining the situation in accordance with India’s treaty responsibilities. Our attention switches to assessing the CAA’s compliance with domestic laws and the constitutional framework of India, which serve as the cornerstone of the country’s democratic values, within the framework world of Indian legal principles. This analysis dives into the complex relationship between the CAA and Indian law, revealing areas of agreement and disagreement within the legal system that oversees the nation. My objective is to provide a thorough analysis of the CAA that clarifies its consequences from both international and domestic legal perspectives by navigating these challenging terrains.
CAA, Human rights, Violation, Secularism, Muslims.
In the backdrop of Indian politics, a chilling specter looms large, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the nation’s diverse fabric. This looming threat comes in the form of the BJP’s surging Hindutva ideology, which sees India not as a blend of people different religions but as a Hindu state that includes Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs as part of its definition of Hinduism while considering Islam as an alien and intrusive faith. The legitimacy of Muslim citizenship in India is contested within this ideological framework, which continues the group’s structural marginalization. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is known for his vehement speech. In 2005, he promised to purify India of all other religions and ushered in the “century of Hindutva.” More concerningly, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh ventured to forecast that by 2024, India would transform into an entirely Hindu country. A grave warning was attached to this prophecy: Muslims who refused to adapt to Hindu culture would be forced to flee their motherland. With regard to this perspective, Indian Muslims are particularly exposed, as shown by the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Unquestionably, nations have the right to choose the requirements for citizenship. This independence does, however, come with a significant caveat: while nations continue to have the discretion to define their citizenship requirements, it is increasingly encouraged that these standards be consistent with both international law and customary norms. The United Nations, a symbol of global cooperation, has played a crucial role in establishing the norms that countries adhere to. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), a landmark text that outlines a wide range of fundamental human rights that are inherent to all people, was approved by the United Nations in 1948, marking a significant turning point in history. Surprisingly, India not only supported the UNDHR but also actively contributed to its drafting. Despite not having a legal effect, the UNDHR serves as a major source of inspiration for numerous agreements that do have legal power. The UNDHR’s Article 14 adamantly declares that every person has the unalienable right to seek asylum if they are being persecuted. The declaration also emphasizes the centrality of the right to nationality as a fundamental human right, as stated in Article 15. This reaffirmation of fundamental rights in the UNDHR is illustrative of the international commitment to preserving the dignity and well-being of every person, regardless of country boundaries.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, and some of its most important ramifications will be examined in Part I of this article. In Parts II and III, we’ll examine how Indian law and International human rights law relate to the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. The Citizenship Amendment Act will be discussed in Part IV of this study along with a conclusion that will be based on Indian politics.