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Abstract

This Article deconstructs the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, through the constitutional lens of history, text, and practise. The Bill provides an accelerated pathway to citizenship to certain persecuted minorities of India’s neighbouring countries—but conspicuously, excludes Muslims. This raises the fundamental question: Does the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, erroneously, conflates the idea of secular India, born in the aftermath of partition, with the jus sanguinis model of citizenship—by introducing religion to the citizenship regime? This Article answers it in the affirmative. It submits that the provisions of the Bill, granting citizenship to illegal migrants based on their religion, contravenes the idea of ‘secular citizenship’, encompassing immense cultural, religious and national diversity. Importantly, it argues that the Bill fails to pass the constitutional muster, because it violates equal protection of laws and the principle of secularism—which are the ‘basic features’ of the Constitution. In this connection, it submits that forging of any national identity by the State within the State apparatus must abide by the constitutional vision and principles, which our founding fathers intentionally designed, pertaining to citizenship—and which this Bill, fails to flagrantly consider.

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