Stripped of Citizenship: The Indian Constitution, Human Rights and Public Law


Webinar - Thursday, 5 August 2021

The NSW Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee invites members to a seminar on contemporary human rights issues in India.

Join Professor Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford and former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, in conversation with Professor Anupama Roy, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Rupali Samuel, Parichay Legal Clinic; and Padmini Baruah, Tufts University, as they discuss the history and effect of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (“CAA”) and National Register of Citizens (“NRC”).

The Indian Government seeks to prepare a ‘list’ of Indian citizens in the state of Assam (the NRC). This process has proven controversial because of the omission of nearly two million residents of the state, on the basis that they or their families have not established that they had lived in India before 26 March 1971.

The NRC process has operated in parallel with the enactment of the CAA, by which ‘persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan … shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of [the] Act’. This law hence provides for a unique set of protections for non-Muslim persons from specified nations. In conjunction with the NRC, this may mean that non-Muslims who would otherwise be stripped of citizenship under the NRC process are nonetheless permitted to remain in India, whereas Muslims will not enjoy that protection.

Ongoing debates over the CAA and the NRC are significant both for India and internationally. These debates illustrate the contested nature of citizenship in modern international law and politics: when is citizenship ‘inalienable’, and when may it be subject to legal and political forces? What does it mean to ‘belong’ to a nation-state in the contemporary world? Does the Indian experience have resonance for the rights and status of Australian citizens? How might lawyers ensure that the substantive and procedural rights of individuals are protected?

Professor Anupama Roy will focus on debates in the Parliament of India on the CAA, and will place those debates in the context of contests over citizenship in the aftermath of India’s independence. Rupali Samuel will speak to the constitutional and legal context of the CAA and the NRC. Padmini Baruah will address the implementation of these laws in practice, including through India’s ‘Foreigners Tribunals’.

For further information, or to register for this event, please click here.

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