Has the Indian government passed a law that bans all Muslims from applying for an Indian citizenship?

We came across a post on X claiming that the Indian government has banned all Muslims from applying for citizenship in India.

While the post did not offer any additional information about the specific law being referenced, it seems to suggest its acceptance in India by stating “[i]magine if the West did this”, implying that the law might be rejected if proposed in Western countries.

Living in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Singapore, these claims have the propensity to create or fuel religious tensions and therefore merit further investigation.

What law is the X post referring to?

Based on our research, it appears that the law mentioned in the X post likely refers to India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which was passed in 2019. The act amended the existing Citizenship Act of 1955 which forbids illegal migrants from obtaining Indian citizenship.

According to the Indian government, the CAA is designed to accelerate citizenship applications for refugees belonging to 6 religious minority groups – Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians – who fled to India before 31 December 2014 due to religious persecution in neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Eligible applicants under this law would qualify for citizenship in 5 years as opposed to the standard waiting period of 11 years for citizenship through naturalisation.

However, the CAA excludes Muslims, who form the religious majority in all 3 stated countries, and therefore do not face religious persecution in these countries. The government further avers that oppressed Muslims have the option to seek refuge in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia while persecuted Hindus can only turn to India. Hence, it stated that Hindus and other minority groups should be given priority for citizenship.


Why is the CAA being talked about now?

Although the CAA was enacted in 2019, its implementation was delayed due to widespread protests that broke out in India in opposition to the legislation. These protests resulted in violent clashes, reportedly claiming the lives of over 100 people.

Critics of the CAA have raised concerns that the law contradicts constitutional values, such as equality, and legitimises prejudicial treatment against Muslims. Opponents of the law also highlighted that neither Muslim minorities facing persecution in neighbouring countries, such as the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, nor migrants from non-Muslim countries seeking refuge in India, such as the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, are covered by the CAA. According to them, this discrepancy contradicts the Indian government’s claim that the law is designed to protect persecuted minorities.

Despite the controversy surrounding the CAA, the Indian government announced the rules for obtaining citizenship under the law on Monday, 11 March 2024, and moved to implement the act. Eligible applicants would have to prove, among others, their country of origin and their religion.

Reports suggest that the CAA was pushed for implementation before the upcoming general elections, notwithstanding opposition, in order to fulfill one of the key promises outlined in the 2019 election manifesto of the current ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party – to protect individuals from religious minority communities escaping persecution in neighbouring countries.


Are all Muslims banned from applying for an Indian citizenship?

While the CAA restricts Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan from applying for citizenship through this particular legislation, there is no complete ban on all Muslims from applying for citizenship in India.

The Indian Citizenship Act permits non-Indian citizens, including Muslims, to apply for citizenship by fulfilling certain criteria, such as through naturalisation. This process requires the applicant to have resided in India for 11 years prior to their application.

Therefore, the claim that the Indian government has passed a law that bans all Muslims from applying for an Indian citizenship is false. The post appears to have conflated the Citizenship Amendment Act with the Citizenship Act, leading to a misleading interpretation.

Leave a Reply