Ahead of the Gujarat elections, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on 31st October 2022 has delegated power to the district magistrates to grant citizenship to minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who are settled in the Mehsana and Anand districts of Gujarat. The power has been delegated to the DMs of the two districts under the Citizenship Act of 1955.
This is not the first time the district magistrates have been delegated such powers. The Ministry of Home Affairs also issued similar orders in 2016, 2018, and 2021, empowering DMs in several districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Chhattisgarh to grant citizenship to migrants coming to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who entered India on valid documents.
The citizenship will be given to the six minority groups whose roots are affiliated with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, which include Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains.
Since 2017, thousands of Hindu minorities have been provided citizenship in Gujarat. Similar powers were delegated to the Ahmedabad district magistrate by the Home Minister of Gujarat, Harsh Sanghavi, who then handed over the Indian citizenship certificates to 40 Hindus who were Pakistanis in August this year.
Citizenship is to give recognition and meaning to the existence of Hindu and Sikh minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
The citizenship will be provided under sections 5 and 6 as per the document attached below.
The current Indian citizenship acquisition as per the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act, of 1955, everyone has a right to get registered as a citizen under these provisions:
- A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration
- A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India
- A person who is married to a citizen of India
- Minor children of persons who are citizens of India
- A person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India
- By naturalization, a foreigner can acquire citizenship who is ordinarily resident in India for twelve years and fulfills other qualifications as specified in the third schedule to the act, 1955.