Kohima: Nagaland’s lone Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye on Friday explained the rationale behind the sudden shift from opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)/ Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to voting in favour of it in the Upper House of Parliament at the “last moment”.
Kenye, who has been opposing the Bill prior to the Winter Session of Parliament, said that with the insertion of new section ‘6B’ in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which exempts the Inner Line Permit (ILP) states under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFRA) 1873 and the states under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India, he was “prompted to support the Bill”.
Explaining further, he told media persons that the four points included under Article 371(A), which deals with land, resources, social and religious practices of the Nagas, are enacted by Parliament. According to him, these four points are constitutionally protected unlike the other points of the 16-point agreement, which can easily be withdrawn. “Such is the power of an executive order and an enactment of Parliament,” he added.
“If all the 16 points have been in the [Art] 371 and have undergone the enactment of Parliament, the government of India is under obligation to fulfill it. But out of the 16 points, 12 were left out,” he said, as he expressed concern that the Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is part of BEFRA 1873, “did not undergo the enactment of Parliament” and can be “withdrawn anytime at the pleasure of Parliament”. He metaphorically referred the strength of BEFRA to a “toothless” and “clawless” tiger and that without it being included in the Constitution makes it “purely temporary”.
Therefore, the insertion of the new section 6B in the recently amended law, according to him, will “immunise” and “regularise” the BEFRA and ILP provision “legally”, which means that this special provision, which is temporary, will “permanently” be written and inserted in the Indian Constitution under CAA, thereby “giving sweeping powers to the state”. He said that with the mention of BEFRA and ILP in the Indian Gazette, these “vulnerable” provisions will be protected and regularised, meaning that Parliament cannot withdraw it at its pleasure.
Kenye continues to justify that this whole new section was not included in the proposed CAB 2016 and so he opposed the Bill. But with the inclusion of the said section in the CAB 2019, which was tabled in Parliament’s Winter Session, he said that he was prompted to support it as it protects the state and immunises the ILP provisions. Kenye said “protection of the state and people is priority” and with the mention of BEFRA and ILP in the CAA, it is now up to the state government to strictly implement the regulations.
He therefore suggested for the government to utilise police forces, state administration in monitoring the influx of illegal immigrants, strengthen border areas, and sensitise officers and security personnel on the grave need to protect the state, and so on to ensure the proper implementation of the ILP.
Kenye sharply pointed that if the Bill was to be passed without the insertion of the new section like the CAB 2016, he will oppose it, but with the exemption made under 6B, there is no reason to oppose the Bill. He affirmed that although he supports the CAA, he opposes the idea of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as these two are different in nature.
While saying that the Bill is meant for the religiously persecuted people from the Islamic states of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, he said that the question of Muslims being prosecuted in these three non-secular countries does not arise.
Resignation from the post of party’s secretary general
A day after the Naga People’s Front (NPF) issued show cause notices to its 2 MPs –Kenye and Lorho Pfoze, the Lok Sabha MP from Outer Manipur — Kenye tendered his resignation from the post of the secretary general. He clarified that his resignation is only from the party leadership and not the party. According to the notice, a seven-day deadline was served by the party’s disciplinary action committee questioning the MPs to explain the rationale in voting in favour of CAB/CAA in the Parliament session by going against the party’s decision to oppose the Bill.
Kenye said that despite his many attempts to reach out to the party to explain the logic behind his decision, he was not given any chance to justify himself and a notice was served against him. He said that as a responsible representative, he is accountable to answer to the people and that he could no longer delay in clarifying his stand, despite his party not listening to his response.
According to him, the party is ignorant about the rectified Act [Section 6B] and has therefore been opposing against the Bill. He revealed that in the December 3 meeting with the home minister and other state leaders, he has appealed the Union government to ensure the safety of the state under BEFRA, and if granted, he should be “satisfied”.
He also questioned his party about the nature of their opposition pondering if it was any different from his opinion, and further said that despite several resolutions made by the party to oppose the Bill, the elaborations of these resolutions were never deliberated.
What is Section 6B of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019?
The insertion of new section 6B in the recently amended law mentions four points under this section, as under:
‘6B (1) The Central Government or authority specified by it in behalf may, subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be prescribed, on an application made in this behalf, grant a certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation to a person referred to in the provision to clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 2.
(2) Subject to fulfillment of the conditions specified in section 5 or the qualifications for naturalization under the provisions of the Third Schedule, a person granted the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation under sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be a citizen of India from the date of his entry into India.
(3) On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect of illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him:
Provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending against him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this behalf shall not reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found qualified for grant of citizenship under this section:
Provided further that the person who makes the application for the citizenship under this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such application.
(4) Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under “the Inner Line Permit” notified under the Bengal eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.’