The rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be formulated by the end of March 2024, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra said on Sunday, The Hindu reported.

He made the statement while addressing a gathering of the Matua community at Thakurnagar in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. A large number of Matuas came to India after fleeing religious persecution in Bangladesh.

Mishra said that according to the information he has on the matter, the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation in the Lok Sabha has fixed time till January 9, 2024, for framing rules under the Act, while the committee in the Rajya Sabha has fixed time till March 30, 2024.

“You will get the full rights of citizenship,” the minister told the Matua community. “In the absence of proper documents, no action can be initiated against you. This we have included in the Act.”

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities except Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.

The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, sparking massive protests across the country.

Indian Muslims fear the law could be used along with the National Register of Citizens to harass and disenfranchise them. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.

The rules of an Act are the guidelines on how the legislation will be implemented. According to parliamentary guidelines, the rules must be published within six months of an Act coming into force.

The Union home ministry has sought extensions at least eight times to frame the rules since the law was enacted. It initially cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the delay and subsequently said that framing the rules needed more consultation.

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