The government has authorized 16 collectors in 7 states in the country to register the members of minority community from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh as Indian citizens .
The Home Ministry in a notification said that any person belonging to minority communities from the three countries – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – can avail the facility.
Those who were given the powers are collectors of Raipur (Chhattisgarh); Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Kutch (Gujarat); Bhopal and Indore (Madhya Pradesh); Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune and Thane (Maharashtra); Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur (Rajasthan); Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh); and West Delhi and South Delhi.
The powers for registration were given to the collectors under the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the notification said.
The Central government notification came in the midst of the move to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act which seeks to grant Indian nationality to people of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they do not possess any proper document.
The Bill is receiving vehement opposition in Assam and other northeastern states and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is examining the draft Bill.
The notification said that the Secretary, Department of Home, of the concerned state or the Union Territory, has been given the same power in case the applicant is not a resident of the mentioned districts, subject to certain conditions. The conditions are also applicable to the 16 districts named.
The conditions include: (a) the application for registration as citizen of India or grant of certificate of naturalisation as citizen of India under the said rules is made by the applicant online, (b) the verification of the application is done simultaneously by the collector or the secretary, as the case may be, at the district-level and the state-level and the application and the reports thereon shall be made accessible simultaneously to the Central government on online portal.
In addition, the collector or the secretary makes such an inquiry as he considers necessary for ascertaining the suitability of the applicant and for that purpose forwards the application online to such agencies for verification and comments as may be required for completing such an inquiry and the instructions issued by the Central government from time to time in this regard shall be strictly complied with by the state or Union Territory and district concerned.
(Source : PTI)