NEW DELHI: A bill seeking to merge Person of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizenship of India was introduced in Lok Sabha today amid resistance from a RSP member.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju introduced the bill which he said will fulfill the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York to Indian diaspora about the merger of the two schemes. The government had already issued an Ordinance to this effect which the bill seeks to replace.
Government had yesterday withdrawn the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2014, introduced in the winter session, from Lok Sabha saying that a fresh legislation will be brought soon.
"Since PM had made a commitment, it is our duty to ensure that we follow upon it," Rijiju said as he introduced The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
While opposing the bill at the introduction stage itself, RSP member N K Premchandran termed it "imperfect and improper" and insisted that a bill on the issue is already pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The government had promulgated the Ordinance on January 6, which aims at giving PIOs benefits like life-long visa and exemption from appearing before the local police station on every visit.
The decision to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 was taken after a large number of complaints were received from PIOs, who often complained of the hassle of visits to local police stations and stringent visa norms that debarred them from buying property in India, in comparison to those holding OCI card.
PIO cardholders were now eligible for only 15-year visas in comparison to lifelong visas given to those having OCI cards.
It will also do away with the clause of foreigners who marry Indians to continuously stay in the country for a period of one year before they get Indian citizenship. The amendment will give foreigners a relief of 30 days in a year when they can travel outside the country.