New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday hailed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act as "historic" in his address to joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, prompting protests by some opposition members.
He also said that debate and discussion on any issue strengthens democracy while violence during protests weaken it.
Kovind said that with the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act the government has fulfilled the will of Mahatma Gandhi and condemned the atrocities being perpetrated on minorities in Pakistan.
The president said, "I am happy that the will of the Father of the Nation has been fulfilled by enacting Citizenship Amendment Act by both Houses of the Parliament."
Kovind also condemned the atrocities on the minority communities in Pakistan and "urged the world community to take cognizance of this and take necessary steps in this regard".
The president also stressed that the government makes it clear that the procedures which were there earlier for people of all religions, who believed in India and want to take citizenship of India, are the same today.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which provides for Indian citizenship to persons belonging to religious minority groups persecuted in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, was passed by Parliament in December last year during the Winter Session.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill on December 9 while the Rajya Sabha passed it on December 12.
In a reference to abrogation of Article 370, Kovind said there is happiness among people of India that people in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have got rights on par with the rest of the country.
Some Opposition members shouted out in protest as the president made references to the controversial CAA and abrogation of Article 370.
The Congress and other opposition parties are of the view that these steps by the government are discriminatory towards Muslims and against the ethos of the country.
The president also hailed the government's focus towards developing startups, women empowerment and creation of the the post of Chief of Defence Staff.