Secularism and the Citizenship Amendment Act

35 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2020

Date Written: January 4, 2020


This paper examines the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) against the backdrop of the citizenship provisions of the Indian Constitution. It argues that contrary to popular belief, the discrimination against Muslim immigrants which seems to form a part of the CAA is not a phenomenon of relatively recent vintage. However, this paper also argues that the CAA is unconstitutional by today’s standards because the conditions which existed during the days of India’s dominionship, between August 1947 and January 1950, no longer exist today. It posits that the CAA is discriminatory for several reasons though not for the insidious, mala fide reasons that are usually attributed to the government in popular discourse. However, this paper also argues that India’s citizenship laws amplify the problems with the CAA, by casting the evidentiary burden of proof on Indians to prove their citizenship, by abandoning the principle of citizenship by birth, by failing to give judges of foreigners tribunals security of tenure, and by omitting a safe harbor for Muslim “dreamers” who illegally came to India as minors with their parents, by no fault of their own, and who have only known India to be their homeland since childhood.

Keywords: Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens, Indian Constitution, Secularism, CAA, NRC

Suggested Citation

Chandrachud, Abhinav, Secularism and the Citizenship Amendment Act (January 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Abhinav Chandrachud (Contact Author)

Advocate, Bombay High Court ( email )

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