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New Delhi: On a day that proved fruitful for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 on Wednesday. The lower house also passed the coal and insurance bills.

Ordinances had been promulgated on all three by the government.

The bill sought to remove disparity between persons of Indian origin (PIO) and overseas citizens of India (OCI) cardholders as laid down in the Citizenship Act.

“January 9, 2015 marked the completion 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India. The Prime Minister had made an announcement in US and Australia to merge OCI and PIO cards before January 9 and, to fulfil this commitment, the ordinance was brought," said minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju.

Even great grandchildren can now avail of the benefits extended to PIOs. It was earlier limited to children and grandchildren only.

However, such individuals will not be entitled to a class of rights conferred only on citizens of India.

Constitutional rights such as equality of opportunity in matters of employment, appointment as judge of the Supreme Court or high courts will not be extended.

Registration may also be cancelled by the central government. Grounds laid down for cancellation range from obtaining OCI through fraud or false representation to trading with an enemy of India when the country is at war.

The bill was introduced with the intention of bringing changes in the conditions for naturalization by reducing the mandatory period of stay from 12 months to a maximum of 30 days.

PTI contributed to this story.

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