Nationality plays a legal bond between an individual and a state. Having a nationality of a particular state is a very important need for better living and security factors of a person. Being stateless is a threatening problem for every individual. Being stateless means various important protections and basic needs are not afforded like education, permanent residence, economic stability, etc. Every individual has a right to education but not having residential proof it does not admit a child for school and it deprives the right to education because of being stateless. According to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to a nationality and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.
Nationality affords the state jurisdiction over the person and affords the person the protection of the state which includes giving them both rights and duties however what these rights and duties vary from country to country. Having a nationality of any country gives every right to an individual available in that country. A legal nationality protects an individual from another nation and can enjoy all fundamental human rights.
Provisions for Citizenship and Stateless in the Indian Constitution
Article 5 of the Constitution of India, titled as ‘citizenship at the commencement of Constitution of India’, provides that any such person, who was or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India, or who has been ordinarily resident in India for at least 5 years before the commencement of the Constitution, shall be deemed to be a citizen of India. The citizenship act provides for registration as Indian citizen to such persons who are not citizens by any other provisions of this act or the Constitution of India. This registration are allowed with some requirements under Section 5 of Citizenship act. One of them is, the applicant should not be an illegal migrant. Section 6 of this act gives citizenship by naturalization. This section allows a person who is not an illegal migrant and has attained majority may apply for naturalization in the prescribed form. However, it is not anywhere defined what the term ‘illegal migrant’ is but this section probably allows stateless to apply for naturalisation.
The convention of 1954 which is related to the status of stateless persons, protects the human rights of stateless persons, and the standard of treatment to which they may be entitled. Under the Census Act, 1948 along with the Census rules, 1990, the census in India is carried out for creating a social, economic, demographic and numerical profile of India. This census omits to take into consideration such a population that may be without a nationality or having unknown nationality. Under the Registration of births and deaths Acts, 1969, registration of birth is mandatory of every child born in India regardless of the nationality of the parents of that child or parents being stateless. According to Passports rules, 1980, a ‘Certificate of identity’ may be issued to a stateless person living in India or a foreigner they do not represent the whose country as India. It is only the Passports act which recognises a category of person as ‘stateless’ and can provide an identity proof in India.
Human Rights regarding Rohingyas Muslims
Rohingyas are the Muslims who are numbered around one million in Myanmar according to the report of 2017, are one of the many ethnic minorities in the country. They represent the largest percentage of Muslims in the country of Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine state. Rohingya Muslims have their own language and culture and claim to be the descendants of Arab traders. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country and the government of Myanmar refuses the citizenship of Rohingyas and also excluded them from the country census of 2014. Government of Myanmar believes Rohingya as the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. These Rohingya Muslims are migrating since 1970s across the region in significant numbers.
The horrible crisis began from 25th August 2017 when Rohingya Arsa militants launched deadly attacks on more than 30 police posts and the phase of violence began in Myanmar. According to analysis of satellite imagery by Human rights watch, at least 288 villages were destroyed by burning northern parts of Rakhine state during August 2017. Since then, more than 3 lakh Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar, according to the United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees (UNHCR). Over 40,000 Rohingyas have entered India illegally according to the government’s estimated numbers. Some of them were found in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat with militant background. The centre told the Supreme Court that, Rohingyas are a threat to the internal and national security of India. The Indian government started looking for ways to deport over 40,000 Rohingyas living in India illegally. Due to the terror threat this action was taken by the government.
The UNHCR asked India to adopt a humanitarian approach and reconsider its decision as Rohingya is the most persecuted ethnic group. In entire South Asia, India has the biggest number of refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and also dealt with the biggest refugee crisis during the partition of India-Pakistan. The Constitution of India also not contain any certain laws to deal with refugees. It only defines the citizen of India. Under Foreigners Act, 1946, a person living in India can be a citizen or a foreigner. Because of the absence of proper refugee laws or provisions in the Constitution, India cannot accept Rohingyas as citizens. This may also shake the political scenario of the country. The centre to the Supreme Court told that Rohingyas have gained citizenship by neutralisation but by fraudulent means. They have gained documents of Indian citizens like Aadhar card, PAN card, Voter ID to live in the country as the citizens. Internationally, small Muslim majority nation Gambia from West Africa on behalf of other Muslim countries filed a case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Myanmar. And the countries also requested for emergency measures against Myanmar military and a proper investigation should be conducted in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar. But Myanmar not being the member of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled the case in the jurisdiction of Bangladesh(a member of ICJ), where some victims fled during the crisis.
Every human being deserves to have human rights, be it a citizen of any country or a stateless person. Being stateless means being deprived of every basic human right and needs like education, healthcare, permanent residence etc. Rohingya Muslims was the minority community of Myanmar and the country should have been taken care of their people by giving them citizenship and other basic rights. Due to the violence in the country, Rohingyas have to flee to other countries to be safer. Due to lack of proper constitutional provisions, India was unable to provide citizenship and human rights to Rohingya Muslims. Also, militant troops being the threat to the internal peace and security to the country, India failed to provide basic rights to the community. Whereas, India has promised Bangladesh to help financially for the living of Rohingya Muslims in their country.
India strongly needs proper and stable provisions for refugee crisis. The term ‘Stateless’ should be explained in the Constitution and also should provide some rights and application of citizenship to the stateless people to avoid future traumas. However, a bill was passed by the political leader regarding refugee laws in the parliament in the year 2015 but the decision seems to be pending. Separate funds should be raised by the top countries to provide basic necessities to such stateless people or community. Also, laws regarding refugees at the international level should be more specified so that stateless people shouldn’t suffer from such crisis. Currently, Kutupalong, the largest settlement for the refugees is the home for more than 6,00,000 refugees.
- What is Citizenship Act?
Citizenship Act provides any such person, who was or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India, or who has been ordinarily resident in India for at least 5 years before the commencement of the Constitution, shall be deemed to be a citizen of India.
- Who are Rohingya Muslims?
Rohingyas are the Muslims who are numbered around one million in Myanmar according to the report of 2017, are one of the many ethnic minorities in the country. They represent the largest percentage of Muslims in the country of Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine state. Rohingya Muslims have their own language and culture and claim to be the descendants of Arab traders.
- What was the decision taken by Indian Government regarding Rohingya Crisis?
Indian Government refused to adopt Rohingya Muslims due to various reasons. First being, absence of proper legal provisions for stateless people. Secondly, India is already home for various refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
- What is the international decision taken for Rohingya crisis?
Internationally, small Muslim majority nation Gambia from West Africa on behalf of other Muslim countries filed a case in International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Myanmar. And the countries also requested for emergency measures against Myanmar military and a proper investigation should be conducted in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar. But Myanmar not being the member of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled the case in the jurisdiction of Bangladesh( member of ICJ), where some of the victims fled during the crisis.
- Weissbrodt, D., & Collins, C. (2006). The Human Rights of Stateless Persons. Human Rights Quarterly, 28(1), 245-276. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/20072730