The CAA is likely to be implemented before the Lok Sabha election dates are announced
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Shreya Varanasi, Pune

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is anticipated to announce the guidelines for implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the coming weeks, according to a recent media report. It will be implemented before the dates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are declared. The guidelines will establish the evidence required of applicants to demonstrate their eligibility for citizenship under the CAA. 

An official of the MHA told The Indian Express that though the date cannot be revealed, it will be notified before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into force. The MCC takes effect when the Election Commission announces polls. It is believed that the Lok Sabha election dates will be revealed sometime next month. 

The CAA amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 to create a road to Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis who came from Muslim-majority nations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014. Several central ministers have stated in recent months that the CAA will go into effect before the Lok Sabha elections.

The CAA’s implementation prompted major controversy and protests across India, with critics claiming that it discriminates against Muslims and contradicts the secular values offered by the Indian Constitution. On the other hand, the government justified the law as a humanitarian step to protect vulnerable religious minorities in neighbouring nations. Despite being passed four years ago, the CAA could not be implemented since the rules were not notified.

The sources explained to The Indian Express that if a parent registered his children in a government school, then he/she would have stated their religion. If someone obtains Aadhaar before December 31, 2014, and declares it one of the six religions listed in the Act, it will be accepted. Similarly, any type of government paper stating religion will be acceptable. 

Further, the sources added that MHA may also accept Assam’s demand that an application for citizenship under the CAA be submitted within a specific time frame. Assam has requested that the MHA limit the time period for applying under the CAA to three months, as it believes that leaving it open-ended would aggravate the state’s concerns about the law.