This article is written by Shubham Choudhary, a 2nd-year law student from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. The author has discussed the concept of citizenship and enlightens about various concepts related to it.

Constitutional Provisions to deal with Citizenship

Part II of the Indian Constitution deals with Citizenship, the following part carries six articles starting from Article 5 to Article 11.

  • Article 5 talks about Citizenship at the time of commencement of the Constitution namely contain three clauses, first deals with a person born in Indian territory will Indian Citizen. Second talks about the person whose parents are born in India will also be an Indian Citizen, third talks about person residing in India for the continuous period of 5 years before the commencement of the Indian Constitution will be the citizen of India.
  • Article 6 talks about the rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan. The article is further divided into two clauses and second clauses are further divided into two subsections.
    • The first clause gives citizenship right to any person who has migrated from Pakistan to India provided any of his parents or grandparents were Indian Citizens according to the Government of India Act, 1935.
    • The second clause talks about the citizenship of a person who migrated before and after the 19th July 1948 and its procedure of recording in the registered document.
  • Article 7 talks about a person who have migrated to Pakistan from India will no more be considered as Indian Citizen provided, they hadn’t returned to India under the permit for resettlement.
  • Article 8 is the clause which discusses the citizenship of person of Indian Origin living outside Indian and whose any of the parent or Grandparent was born in India and they have registered themselves as Indian Citizen at the consular or diplomatic representative of India.
  • Article 9 of the constitution provides for automatic suspension of Indian citizen if that person voluntarily seeks citizenship of any other country.
  • Article 10 provides that person who meets the definition of Citizen under part II will continue to be a citizen unless parliament has amended the definition and that person is excluded from the definition.
  • Article 11 gives the powers to the government over who will be a citizen and who will not be a citizen without limitation by the constitution.

These articles provide for citizenship at the commencement of the constitution, after this the parliament has passed a Citizenship Act, 1955 which provide for acquisition and termination of citizenship of India.

Acquisition of Citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955

The Citizenship Act provides 5 ways to acquire citizenship of India. These are birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and incorporation of territory.

Birth

  • A person born in India after the passing of the bill will be considered as an Indian Citizen till the date of 1st July 1987 irrespective of the nationality of his parents. After this a major amendment took place, a person will be considered as Indian Citizen only when either of the parents was a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • After 3rd December 2004, those born in India will be considered as Indian citizen if both or either one of the parents is a citizen of India.
  • However, the children of a foreign diplomat posted in India and enemy aliens cannot acquire citizen by birth in India.

Descent

A person born outside India after the commencement of the constitution but before 10th December 1992 will be considered as an Indian citizen if his father was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.

  • A person born on or after 10th December 1992 will be considered as Indian citizen if either of his parents were an Indian citizen at the time of his birth.
  • From 3rd December 2004 onwards, a person would not be considered an Indian citizen unless his birth is registered with Indian Consular or Diplomate of that Country or with the permission of the Government.
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Registration

The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he belongs to any of the following categories, namely:

(a) A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;

(b) A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;

(c) A person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;

(d)  Minor children of persons who are citizens of India;

(e) A person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India.

(f) A person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was an earlier citizen of independent India, and is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months immediately before making an application for registration;

(g) A person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India cardholder for five years, and who is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months before making an application for registration.

Naturalisation

The Central Government may, on an application, grant a certificate of naturalisation to any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he possesses the following qualifications

  • He is not a subject or citizen of any country where citizens of India are prevented from becoming subjects or citizens of that country by naturalisation.
  • He is a citizen of any country, he undertakes to renounce the citizenship of that country in the event of his application for Indian citizenship being accepted.
  • He has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India or partly the one and partly the other, throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application.
  • During the fourteen years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months, he has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India, or partly the one and partly the other, for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than eleven years
  • He is of good character.
  • He has adequate knowledge of a language specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
  • That in the event of a certificate of naturalisation being granted to him, he intends to reside in India or to enter into or continue in, service under a Government in India or under an international organisation of which India is a member or under a society, company or body of persons established in India.

By Incorporation of territory

When any territory outside India becomes part of India, then their citizen automatically becomes the citizen of India from the notified date. Example when Goa and Pondicherry became part of India, the citizen automatically acquired the citizenship of India.

Loss of Citizenship

The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for three ways for the termination of citizenship. These three ways are renunciation, termination and deprivation.

  • By Renunciation: any person with majority and capacity can declare to renounce his citizenship. Upon such registration of request, the person shall cease to the citizen of India.
  • By Termination: When a person with his knowledge acquired citizenship of any other country than the Indian citizen automatically forfeits.
  • By Deprivation: It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government, if
    • Citizen has obtained citizenship by fraud.
    • Citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India.
    • Citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war.
    • The citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalisation, been imprisoned in any country for two years; and
    • Citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.

Rights of Citizens

  • The constitution of India grants some rights solely to Indian citizen and are same denied to foreign nations. The following rights are:
  • Article 15: Right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 16: Right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment
  • Article 19: Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession.
  • Articles 29 and 30: Cultural and educational rights.
  • Right to vote in elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly.
  • Right to contest for the membership of the Parliament and the state legislature.
  • Eligibility to hold certain public offices, that is, President of India, Vice-President of India, judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts, governor of states, the attorney general of India and advocate general of states.

These are the rights that are available Indian citizen but owing to this there are some obligations on the citizens also. These are like paying taxes to the government on time, respect the national flag and things in national emblem and defending the country when required to do so.

Is Dual citizenship permitted in India?

  • Dual citizenship stands for acquiring citizenship of two different nation at the same time. There are some countries in the world which provide for this, but unfortunately, India is not one of them. India provides for single citizenship implying one has to leave his original citizenship to gain Indian citizenship or to acquire citizenship of any other nation one has to terminate Indian citizenship or it will automatically be terminated.
  • The rationale behind not providing Indian citizenship is Single citizenship is considered a commitment to the nation and one is provided with dual citizenship, all the faith and loyalty vanishes away.

Who are Overseas Citizens?

  • Overseas citizenship was introduced in response to dual citizenship in 2005. It grants overseas citizens to work and live in India indefinitely. The following persons are considered for Overseas citizenship.
    • A person who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950.
    • A person who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26.01.1950.
    • A person who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947.
  • A person who is a child or a grandchild or a great-grandchild of such a citizen.
  • A person who is a minor child of such persons mentioned above.
  • A person who is a minor child and whose parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India.
  • Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder registered under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application.

Difference between Nationality, Citizenship, Overseas citizenship and Non-residence citizenship

  • Nationality is the status of belonging to a particular nation. The nationality of the person is determined from where he belongs, it more of sociological concept determined by ethnic and racial groups and it can never be taken from a person and forms a person’s identity. There is no relation of nationality with the rights conferred to the person.
  • Citizenship is more of a legal concept and is granted by the government of that nation. unlike nationality, it can be changed or taken away from a person. The person is given rights by its own government by the virtue of citizenship. While a person can belong to one nationality but he can acquire citizenship of several nations at the same time. These are the persons who have some exclusive rights that can be enjoyed by them and these are their privileged owing to the citizen of that nation.
  • Overseas citizenship is in replacement of dual citizenship and is a unique concept to India and unlike dual citizenship, it is available to an only certain category of people who had earlier relation to India or their parents or grandparents. There are rights available to overseas citizens but these are not as exclusive as they are to ordinary citizens.
  • Non-residence Citizenship is given to the people who have Indian Citizens but owing to work or other reason these people are not living in India but these people have all rights that have to the ordinary citizen of India.

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