The Narendra Modi government issued a gazette notification Friday empowering authorities in 13 more districts — in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab — to grant citizenship to minority communities hailing from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh under the existing rules.
However, this isn’t the first time that state officials have been empowered to grant citizenship to minorities from neighbouring countries. In 2018, the Modi government had empowered the collectors and home secretaries of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
The latest move came even as the Centre sought more time earlier this month to frame the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rules.
According to the notification, the collectors of the specified districts — and the home secretaries in Punjab and Haryana — will be empowered to accept, verify and ultimately grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian applicants, who hail from the three countries mentioned above.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 16 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the Central Government hereby directs that powers exercisable by it, for registration as a citizen of India under section 5, or for grant of certificate of naturalisation under section 6, of the Citizenship Act, 1955, in respect of any person belonging to minority community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians… shall also be exercisable by the Collector, within whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily resident,” the notification said.