Citizenship Amendment Act: Comparing India & Bangladesh

The three countries from where migrants have become eligible under the Citizenship Amendment Act include Bangladesh as one of the countries. The Bangladesh Constitution was adopted in 1972 and refers to its war of liberation as a historic war which establishes the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Its Preamble mentions ’Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism and Secularism’ as the fundamental principles. Unlike India’s constitution, it problem mentions socialism explicitly.

Islam, the state religion of Bangladesh

The military dictator, Ziaur Rahman in 1977 removed the term secular from the constitution. President Hussain Muhammad Ershad in 1988, got article 2A inserted which says the state’s religion is Islam but other religions can be practised in peace and harmony as well. However this amendment was struck down by the Bangladesh Hight court in 2005 and the Supreme Court in 2010. In 2011, the Constitution was amended and the term secular was reinserted.

Idea of state religion and its coexistence with secularism

Article 8(1) of the Bangladesh constitution mentions secularism along with nationalism, democracy as the fundamental principles of state policy. Article 12 says the principles of secularism shall be realised by the elimination of communalism. With such a provision, the charge of religious persecution is ruled out.

Definition of freedom of religion

Article 41 of the constitution of Bangladesh says that every citizen has the right to profess or practice any religion. While in India, Article 25 guarantees religious freedom which is subject to fundamental rights and the state can also restrict freedom of religion in respect of economic, financial, political activity associated with religious practices.

Laws on citizenship

Article 6 of Bangladesh’s constitution says that citizenship call be regulated by law and people shall be known as Bengalees as a nation. In 1972, a Presidential order, Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary provisions), conferred citizenship to anyone who or whose father or grandfather was born in territories of Bangladesh and who was a permanent resident on March 25, 1971. The Bangladesh government may grant citizenship to a person of European, North America or Australia as well, but knowledge of Bangla is required. Foreign women married to a Bangla can also get citizenship after two years of residence.

Question for UPSC Mains:
In context of the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act, discuss the difference in provisions of citizenship between Bangladesh and India.

Published: December 23, 2019 | Modified:December 23, 2019

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