citizenship law of india

In this Article Anubhav Pandey gives an insight into the Citizenship Law in India.

In the midst of all the controversies regarding movie stars changing their nationality, there is a lot of confusion regarding citizenship law of India. People often confuse OCI (Overseas citizenship of India) and PIO (People of Indian Origin) as dual citizenship. What is the citizenship law in India? Who is an Indian? How to become an Indian citizen? How to renounce Indian Citizenship? A detailed blog on citizenship laws of our motherland and what it requires to be an Indian.

Citizenship Law in India

Citizenship law in India is governed by the Citizenship Act 1955 and The Constitution of India. India is one of few countries whose citizenship law is incorporated in the constitution itself. Due to unavoidable circumstances arose because of the partition of India and Pakistan and the freedom of Indian state to either join the Union or leave it, the citizenship law had to be incorporated in the constitution itself.

Defining Citizen,

A citizen of a given state is a person who enjoys full membership of the political community of a state.

 

  • A citizen is very different from a person who is merely residing in the land. A citizen enjoys voting.
  • A citizen who enjoys voting rights, as well as, the right to various government services, are reserved for citizen only.

Constitution Defining Citizenship

Part II (Article 5-11) of the Indian Constitution defines citizenship and few ways of acquiring it.

  • Citizenship by Domicile

Domicile is an essential requirement for acquiring Indian Citizenship. Domicile means a permanent home or place where a person resides for a long duration of time.

There is a margin of difference between Residence and Domicile.

Domicile can be categorized into two –

  • By Birth.
  • By Choice.

To be entitled to Citizenship by Domicile there are three conditions which need to be fulfilled-

  1. He must have been born in territory of India.
  2. Either of his parents must have been born in territory of India.
  3. He must have been ordinarily residing in India for not less than five years immediately preceding the commencement of constitution.

Domicile is different from citizenship. The person may possess one nationality and different domicile.

 

  • A person is free to give his domicile in case he wants to acquire citizenship of any other nation.
  • Domicile is different from citizenship. The person may possess one nationality and different domicile.

Persons Who have Migrated from Pakistan to India Before the Commencement of Constitution

Immigrants who came to India before 19th July 1948 can be called a citizen of India if the following two conditions are fulfilled-

  1. The immigrant or either his parents or any of his grandparent was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935.
  2. The immigrant has been ordinarily residing in India since the day of his migration.

Immigrants who came to India After 19th July 1948 need to fulfill the following conditions to be called an Indian citizen-

  • The immigrant or either his parents or any of his grandparent was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935.
  • He has to make an application for citizenship.
  • He must prove that he has resided in India for six months.
  • He must be registered as a citizen by an officer appointed by the government.

A person who after 1 March 1947 migrated to Pakistan will cease to be a citizen of India.

  • Even if a person is a citizen of India by the virtue of above laws, he will cease to be an Indian citizen if he has migrated to India after 1st March 1947.
  • An Exception is made in favor of a person who has returned to India on the basis of the permit for resettlement in India. The immigrant or either his parents or any of his grandparent was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935.

Citizenship Right of Persons of Indian Origin Residing Outside India

Indian citizenship can be granted to persons who on the face of it had no domicile in India on fulfillment of certain condition.

  • The person whose parents or grandparents were born in India but are residing abroad.
  • The registration of that person as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where they are residing is necessary.

Person Voluntarily Acquiring Citizenship of a Foreign State Not to be Citizens.

A person who has voluntarily acquired citizenship of a different state shall not remain a citizen of India. A foreign state means a state other than India.

Citizenship law as Governed by Indian Citizenship Act, 1955

modes of acquiring Indian citizenship

  • Citizenship by Birth

A Person Born in India shall be Citizen Under the Following Condition

  1. On or after the 26th day of January 1950 but before the 1st day of July, 1987.
  2. On or after the 1st day of July, 1987, but before 7th july 2004 and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  3. After 7th july 2004 where both of his parents are citizens of India or one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.

A person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this sec­tion if at the time of his birth

  1. Either his father or mother possesses such immunity from suits and legal process as is accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to the President of India and he or she, as the case may be, is not a citizen of India.
  2. His father or mother is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by the enemy.
  • Citizenship by Descent

A person born outside India shall be a citizen of India by descent

  • On or after the 26th day of January, 1950, but before the 10th day of December, 1992, if his father is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • On or after the 10th day of December 1992, if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth –provided that if the father of a person referred to in clause (a) was a citizen of India by descent only. That person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this section unless—
  • His birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of its occurrence or the commencement of this Act, whichever is later, or with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period; or
  • His father is, at the time of his birth, in service under a Government in India: provided further that if either of the parents of a person referred to in clause (b) was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this section unless
  • His birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of its occurrence or on or after the 10th day of December, 1992, whichever is later, or, with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period; or
  • Either of his parents is, at the time of his birth, in service under a Government in India, provided also that on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, a person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this section, unless his birth is registered at an Indian consulate in such form and in such manner, as may be prescribed—
  •   Within one year of its occurrence or the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, whichever is later; or
  •   With the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period: provided also that no such birth shall be registered unless the parents of such person declare, in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed, that the minor does not hold the passport of another country.

Citizenship by Registration

Citizenship of India by registration can be acquired by –

  1. Persons of Indian origin who or either of whose parents was born in undivided India and who are ordinarily resident in India for seven years.
  2. Persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily residents in any country or place outside undivided India.
  3. Persons who are or have been married to a citizen of India and who are ordinarily resident in India for five years.
  4. Minor children both whose parents are Indian citizens.
  5. A citizen of Singapore and Canada who is resident in India for five years and eight years respectively.

Citizenship by Naturalisation

Citizenship of India by naturalisation can be acquired by a foreigner who is ordinarily resident in India for twelve years (continuously for the twelve months preceding the date of application and for eleven years in the aggregate in the fourteen years preceding the twelve months).

Renunciation of Citizenship

  •  If any citizen of India of full age and capacity, makes in the prescribed manner a declaration renouncing his Indian Citizenship, the declaration shall be registered by the prescribed authority and upon such registration, that person shall cease to be a citizen of India- provided that if any such declaration is made during any war in which India may be engaged, registration thereof shall be withheld until the Central Government otherwise directs.
  • Where a married couple ceases to be a citizen of India, every minor child of that person shall thereupon cease to be a citizen of India – provided that any such child may within one year after attaining full age makes a declaration that he wishes to resume Indian citizenship and shall thereupon again become a citizen of India.

Termination of Citizenship

  •  Any citizen of India who by naturalisation, registration otherwise voluntarily acquires or has at any time between the 26th January 1950 and the citizenship act voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country shall, upon such acquisition or, as the case may be, such commencement, cease to be a citizen of India – provided that nothing applies to a citizen of India who, during any war in which India may be engaged, voluntarily acquires, the citizenship of another country, until the Central Government otherwise directs.
  • If any question arises as to whether, when or how any citizen of India has acquired the citizenship of another country, it shall be determined by such authority, in such manner, and having regard to such rules of evidence, as may be prescribed in this behalf.

Is Dual Citizenship Permitted Under Indian Law?

The Indian constitution does not allow dual citizenship. An Indian citizen can hold the citizenship of only one nation at a time and that must be of india.

As explained above, the provision of OCI and PIO is often confused with dual citizenship. There is a misconception among the people that our Indian Constitution grants the provision for dual citizenship.

What is Overseas Citizenship of India? Is it Not Dual Citizenship?

Person of Indian Origin who migrated from India to other countries except Pakistan and Bangladesh can be called an overseas citizen of India, provided their country allow OCI citizenship.

The following Categories of persons (except Pakistan and Bangladesh) are eligible to apply under OCI scheme:

  1. Who is a citizen of another country but was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after, the commencement of the constitution.
  2. Who is a citizen of another country but was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of the commencement of the constitution.
  3. Who is a citizen of another country but belonged to a territory that became part of India after the 15th day of August, 1947.
  4.  Who is a child or a grandchild or a great grandchild of such a citizen.

OCI is not equivalent to Dual citizenship. Overseas citizen of India do not enjoy the following right –

  • They do not have the right to vote.
  • They cannot hold an Indian passport.
  • They are not eligible for constitutional posts.
  • They cannot be a member of legislature of any house.

This is all about Citizenship Law in India. What do you think? How benefiting Citizenship Law is for India?
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