A local priest can issue an eligibility certificate to validate the religion of an applicant under the Citizenship Amendment Act, The Hindu reported on Thursday citing a response it received through the Centre’s helpline for queries related to the Act.

The eligibility certificate, issued by a locally reputed community institution, is among several documents that are required for the applicants to get citizenship under the Act.

The person issuing the certificate must certify that “to the best of my knowledge and belief, he/she belongs to Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/Jain/Parsi/Christian community and continues to be a member of the above-mentioned community”.

On March 21, the Union home ministry launched the free helpline number 1032 for assistance and information on the application process. This came after the Centre on March 11, notified the rules under the Act that was passed in 2019. However, at the time the Centre had not mentioned which authority can issue the certificate.

According to The Hindu, the person answering the helpline call on Tuesday said that the certificate can be issued on a “blank sheet of paper or on a judicial paper with a stamp value of Rs 10”.

The newspaper was also told that any local priest can be asked to issue the certificate.

Nearly 100 Pakistani Hindus living in Delhi’s Majnu ka Tila area have registered on the citizenship portal, The Hindu quoted Dharamveer Solanki, an applicant, as saying. “Some of us got the eligibility certificate from the Arya Samaj mandir and some from the Shiv Mandir nearby,” he told the newspaper. “We are waiting for the documents to be processed.”

The Citizenship Amendment Act aims to provide a fast track to 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 have entered the country by December 31, 2014.

The forms are checked by the District Level Committee, according to information on the citizenship portal. The committee will then ask the applicant through an email or SMS, the date and time on which they would be expected for an in-person appointment along with originals of all the documents attached with the application for verification.

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