New Delhi: The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that the May 28 order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which empowered certain districts to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh has no relation with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
The impugned notification merely seeks to delegate the power of the Central Government to the local authorities in particular cases, the Centre said in a Counter-Affidavit.
The said notification does not provide for any relaxation to the foreigners and applies only to a foreigner who has entered the country legally as the Central Government used its authority under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act and delegated its powers to grant citizenship by Registration or Naturalisation to District Collectors, it read.
In 2016, the Centre used its authority under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act and delegated its powers to grant citizenship by Registration or Naturalisation to District Collectors of 16 districts and Home Secretaries of Governments of 7 States in respect of migrants belonging to six specified minority communities of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, for two years.
In the meantime, the Central Government received several representations to delegate its power to grant citizenship in respect of the aforesaid legal migrants to some more districts/ States also where a sizeable population of such migrants has been residing.
Therefore, the Central Government further delegated its power to grant citizenship in such cases to the Home Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana and Collectors of Morbi, Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in Gujarat, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali, Barmer, and Sirohi in Rajasthan, Durg, and Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh, Faridabad in Haryana and Jalandhar.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) had approached the top court seeking a stay on the May 28 MHA order.
The plea had claimed the Centre has illegally permitted the collectors of the chosen districts to grant citizenship to persons belonging to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.