Interview with Amish Tandon, author of Indian Citizenship and Immigration Law
on Aug 08, 2022
Frontlist: How did you utilize this book to convey what it means to be an Indian citizen and the different ways in which one might do so?
Amish Tandon: In simple terms, citizenship may be described as a legal status which is conferred by a state to “its people” which status comes with a set of rights and obligations for both the citizen and state. Citizenship is really about individuals’ relations to the state and to each other. In this book, every fragment in the concept of citizenship in the context of Indian law, is discussed. The book discusses the relationship which an Indian citizen has with the state. Further, this book also discusses the (Indian) immigration law framework with special emphasis on the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Frontlist: Why are border states like Assam a significant example of this predicament, and who is the CAA supposed to assist?
Amish Tandon: Assam is been a hotspot for illegal migration since the days of independence, especially from Bangladesh. The problem persists to this date. It is for this reason that the Assam Accord was signed in the year 1985 and a promise made to carry out an exercise to identify and deport illegal migrants from Assam, also called Assam NRC (an exercise which came to fruition with the judgement of the Supreme Court popularly called the “Assam NRC Judgement”).
In this context implementation of CAA in the state of Assam poses a separate set of grievances for its indigenous populace and challenges for the authorities. The grievances here include violation of the Assam Accord, undoing of the Assam NRC Judgement, jeopardy to the Assam NRC, violation of the provisions of the Indian Constitution etc.
This issue has been given a special place in my book and almost two chapters have been dedicated to this.
Frontlist: How can scholars and lawyers who practise and specialise in this area of law use this book as a research tool?
Amish Tandon: While writing this book, an honest effort has been made to cover every aspect of the Indian law in the citizenship and immigration space, right from independence till date. Further, an attempt has been made to cover and incorporate every judicial precedent on the subject. As mentioned earlier, there is little legal literature available in this area and this book has been authorised to cover just that.
This book aims to provide to practitioners a ready and detailed commentary succinctly covering every facet of this law in one place, complete with all case laws on the subject.
Frontlist: "The Delhi High Court Guidelines" were created in 2010 regarding issuing a LOC. What are your thoughts on that?
Amish Tandon: A Look-Out-Circular (LOC) is a document issued by specific government authorities to trace absconding persons and to keep a watch or track on the movement of persons (entering India and going out). The principal idea behind this is to ensure that a person is available for interrogation, inquiry or trial, as required, and does not “disappear”. Under Indian law, an LOC is governed by executive instructions. These executive instructions have been in place since 1979 and have been modified from time to time. However, these executive instructions were not considered detailed enough. Also, there were gaps in these executive instructions The Delhi High Court in the case of “Sumer Singh Salkan v. Assistant Director” decided to formulate detailed guidelines for issue of LOC pursuant to which the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an office memorandum dated 27.10.2010 on the subject wherein for the first time detailed guidelines for issue of LOC were codified. These have been in force since.
The above guidelines are not fully comprehensive and we have often seen courts interfere on the issue of LOC and pass additional directions to fill in gaps. The government may consider amending the executive instructions from time to time to keep up with changing times and trends.
Frontlist: Do you have any noteworthy discoveries from your study for the book that you would want to share with us?
Amish Tandon: My study for this book showed me how layered and complex the issues of citizenship are especially for a country like India which had witnessed migration issues since the day of its creation.
Frontlist: Why do so many Indian people marry foreign nationals and travel abroad in search of lucrative employment?
Amish Tandon: In my view, by and large, citizens of a country travel and settle in other (better developed) countries mainly for economic reasons, hope for a better life etc. In some case, it is also to escape armed conflicts (Syria for example) and oppression on minority classes. Indians in my view settle abroad mainly for economic reasons.
Frontlist: The book is an excellent source of information for anyone looking to understand our country’s citizenship and immigration laws. What motivated you to author a book that provides a thorough analysis of these laws?
Amish Tandon: The inspiration for me has always been to write on virgin territories i.e. on areas of law which are not oft written on. Another aim was to also provide a clear, complete and unbiased analysis of the recent events in this area of law i.e. the CAA, the NRC et al.
I feel that every treatise on a subject should be detailed and provide to its readers full clarity and understanding. Also if the book provides analysis of all case law on the subject then that is an added plus (and a great advantage to the legal practitioners). I have endeavoured to compile the entire Indian citizenship and immigration law in one place in language which is easy to read and understand. I hope I have done justice to the subject.