Citizenship in India

Part 2 of the Indian Constitution spanning from Article No. 5 to 11 deals with the provision of Citizenship in India. In simple terms, Citizenship means the status of being a citizen of a particular country. Citizens are complete members of the nation and enjoy all the rights guaranteed by the law of the land. While there is another group of people in the country who do not have all the rights with them and are called Aliens. Furthermore, it is divided into two groups, friendly and enemy aliens. The enemy aliens refer to citizens from the nation that is at war with the said country and, they obviously have fewer privileges than the formerly aliens. The citizens have both a set of rights and duties that they have to abide by. 

The Fundamental rights listed in Part 3 of the constitution have certain rights that apply solely to citizens. They are 

  1. Article 15- Rights against discrimination on grounds only of religion, caste, sex, or place of birth. 
  2. Article 16- Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. 
  3. Article 19- Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and profession. 
  4. Article 29- Protection of Interests of Minorities 
  5. Article 30 -Right of Minorities to Establish and administer educational institutions Along with there are certain other rights that are conferred to citizens only, like, Right to vote in elections to the Lower House and the state legislative assembly, the Right to contest elections, getting elected to posts like that of the President of India, Vice President of India, the judges if the apex court and the high courts, etc. 

The Fundamental Duties apply to only citizens of India alike the Fundamental Rights. 

It is to be noted that the constitutional provisions relate to the persons who were granted Indian citizenship on the 26th of January 1950. For the matters of acquisition and loss of citizenship after that period, the constitution empowers the Parliament to do the same by enacting suitable legislation. The Parliament passed the Citizenship Act in 1955 for the same purposes. The act has been further amended in 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015, and 2019. 

Article 5 deals with the provision of citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution. To be eligible for the same, a person should have domicile in India and has to fulfill either of the following three conditions 

  1. Born in the territory of India, or 
  2. Either of whose parents were born in the territory of India, or 
  3. Who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than 5 years immediately before the onset of the Constitution? 

Article 6 contains provisions for those who have migrated from Pakistan to India. The person shall be an Indian citizen if – 

He or other of his parents or any of his grandparents was born in India (as per description in the Government of India Act 1935).

After that, it further segregates as per two situations- if a person has migrated before the 19th day of July 1948, he has been ordinarily resident in India since migration or, If the person migrated on or after the said date, he has been registered as an Indian citizen. For the above purposes, a person should reside in India for at least 6 months. 

Article 7 contains conditions for those who migrated to Pakistan but later came back to India. The 1st of March 1947 is considered the cutoff date for this article. 

Article 8 relates to the rights of persons of Indian origin residing outside India. Any person who or either of his parents or grandparents was born in India(definition same as in GoI Act,1935) and is residing outside India shall be considered to be an Indian citizen if he is registered so by the diplomat or consular representative if India in that country, whether before or after the commencement of the constitution. 

Article 9 states that the persons who voluntarily acquire citizenship of another country shall discontinue to be Indian Citizens. 

Provisions in Article 10 state that every person who is or is considered to be an Indian citizen shall continue to be so, subject to the Parliamentary law. 

Article 11 provides that the Parliament has the power to make any conditions concerning the acquisition or termination of citizenship and other matters related to it. 

Following the Constitutional obligations, the Citizenship Act, of 1955 is enacted by the Parliament and has the following provisions regarding the acquisition of Indian Citizenship –

1. By Birth- A person is an Indian Citizen if he is born in India on or after the 26th of January 1950 but before the 1st of July 1947. The nationality of parents is not considered for this purpose. 

If a person is born on or after 1st July 1987, he is an Indian citizen if either of his parents is an Indian citizen at the time of his birth. 

For those born on or after 3rd December 2004, a person is an Indian citizen if both of their parents are Indian citizens or one of them is but the other one should not be an illegal migrant at the time of their birth. 

There is a caveat that this mode of citizenship is not provided to the children of foreign diplomats in India and enemy aliens. 

2. By Descent- If a person is born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but prior to 10th of December 1992 is deemed to be a citizen of India by descent. 

For dates after 10 December 1992, a person born outside India is an Indian citizen if either of his parents were Indian at the time of his birth. 

For a person born after 3rd December 2004, a person born outside shall not be an Indian citizen shall not be an Indian citizen by descent. However, there is an exception if his birth is registered at an Indian consulate a year from the date of birth or if Central

Government is after the expiry date. In the case of a minor child, the registration of his/her birth shall be done with the Indian consulate and an undertaking by the parents if the minor child that s/he does not have a passport from any country. 

  1. By mode of registration- for the following situations 
  2. A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for 7 years before making an application for enrollment 
  3. Person of Indian origin resident in any place outside India 
  4. Married to an Indian citizen and is in India for 7 years before applying D. Minor children of persons who are Indian citizens 
  5. A person of full age or capacity whose parents are Indian citizens 
  6. A person of full age and capacity who or either of his parents was earlier an Indian citizen before independence and is residing in India for 1 year before applying 
  7. Enlisted as an overseas citizen for 5 years and residing in India for a year before making an application. 

For these previous, resident means living for 12 months before applying and, residing in India during 8 years preceding the said 12 months for not less than 6 years. 

  1. By Naturalisation- The certificate of naturalization is accorded by the Central government to the person if- 
  • If not subject to any country where Indian citizens are discriminated against to become citizens of that country 
  • He being a citizen of another country decides to renounce it in favour of applying for Indian citizenship 
  • He has either resided in India or service of Govt. of India or partly on or another throughout the 12 months preceding the application 
  • During the 14 years preceding the said 12 months, has resided in India or been in government service for periods amounting to 11 years in total. 
  • He is of good character 
  • Adequate knowledge of a language in the 8th schedule 
  • In lieu of receiving a certificate of naturalization, the person agrees to stay in India, or enter or continue in service under the Government of India or an international organization. 

The said person has to subscribe to an oath of allegiance to the constitution after being accorded the said certificate. 

  1. Under incorporation of territory – The government of India certifies persons who can be Indian citizens when it incorporates another territory. They become citizens from the notified date. 

Loss of citizenship 

The Citizenship Actv1955 describes 3 ways by which a citizen can lose his citizenship-

  1. Renunciation- it can be done by a declaration. Upon registration, the said person discontinued to be an Indian citizen. However, if it is made during a war, it can be withheld by the government. 

Every minor child too loses citizenship after such pronouncement but s/he can again become one after reaching 18 years of age. 

  1. Termination – in case of voluntarily taking citizenship of another nation, he loses his status as an Indian citizen. The exemption is during the event of war. 
  2. Deprivation- Compulsory cessation of the Central Government if 
  3. Citizenship is acquired in fraudulent ways 
  4. Exhibited Disloyalty to the Constitution 
  5. Unlawfully exchanged or spoken with an enemy 
  6. Citizens within 5 years after registration or naturalization been detained in any nation for 2 years 
  7. Resident out of the country for 7 years continuously. 

Recently, the issue of citizens revoking their Indian citizenship was in the headlines as they are finding their feet in either developed countries or the middle east. 

At the last, Citizenship in India is single for both the country and state. However, it is different in the case of the United States of America, there is a cause of dual citizenship Ii.e.a a person is a citizen of both nation and a separate state. 

As a citizen, it is both a matter of right and a duty. It is a sense of obligation to promote a feeling of common brotherhood among citizens and hence, contribute to the upliftment of the nation in all spheres.

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