Government gives nod for Ordinances to amend Citizenship Act, 1955 & Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996
Union government has given its nod for ordinance route to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
This move of government comes few days before Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2015 which marks the centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa on January 9, 1915.
- Citizenship Act amendments will benefit People of Indian Origin (PIO) and will give them benefits like life-long visa and exemption from appearing before the local police station on every visit etc.
- It will also change the clause of parent Act which says that foreigners who marry Indians must continuously stay in the country for a period of one year before they get an Indian citizenship. In this regards they will get relief of 30 days in a year when they can travel outside the country.
- The amendment also clears the way for relaxed visa norms for minor children of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders.
- While, the amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act are based on the 246th report of the Law Commission of India. It seeks to remove inadequacies in its functioning.
These ordinances come in the wake of Prime Minister’s Madison Square Garden speech to Indian diaspora in September 2014 where he had mentioned that both PIO and OCI cards would be merged.
Previously, in 2013 then UPA government had first introduced Citizenship Amendment Bill.
There was also demand from PIOs to amend the Act as they were facing often stringent visa norms that debarred them from buying property in India, in comparison to those holding OCI card and visits to local police stations.
As per the previous provisions, PIO cardholders are eligible for 15-year visas in comparison to lifelong visas given to those having OCI cards.