The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there, was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311-80 votes on Monday night, after more than seven hours of debate and discussions.
The Union government is confident of its passage in the Rajya Sabha as well with the support of several non-aligned regional parties which have often joined the treasury benches in the past.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it. Several amendments brought by opposition members, including one by Shiv Sena MP, were defeated either by voice vote or by a division.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and will be given Indian citizenship.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night expressed delight over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha, saying the proposed law is in line with India's centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values.
"Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate. I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the Bill. This Bill is in line with India's centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values," he tweeted.
He said he would like to specially applaud Home Minister Amit Shah for lucidly explaining all aspects of the measure. "He also gave elaborate answers to the various points raised by respective MPs during the discussion in Lok Sabha," Modi said.
Introducing the bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, earlier in the day, said the Congress "divided" the country on the basis of religion that is why it was necessary to bring the bill.
Shah said the proposed legislation is being brought on the basis of reasonable classifications provided under the Constitution and it does not violate any of its provisions.
The bill, he said, seeks to give Indian nationality to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are facing religious persecution there.
The home minister said laws were framed to give citizenship to people on several occasions in the past, including in 1971 after the creation of Bangladesh and attacks on Indians in Uganda, by using the provision of reasonable classifications. "This bill is not even .001 per cent against minorities. It is against infiltrators," he said.
Earlier, opposition leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Saugata Roy, N K Premchandran, Gaurav Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor, Assaduddin Owaisi opposed the introduction of the bill, saying it was violative of various provisions of the Constitution, including move to grant citizenship on the basis on religion. The bill was introduced after a division of votes for which 293 MPs voted in favour and 82 voted against.
(With PTI inputs)