Table of Contents
What is citizenship?
The population of a state is divided into two categories: citizens and non-citizens. A citizen of a state enjoys all civil and political rights. A non-citizen, on the other hand, doesn’t enjoy these rights.
Under the Indian constitution, certain fundamental rights are available only to the citizens, namely: Right against discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth (Article 15); right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment (Article 16); freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession (Article 19); cultural and educational rights (Article 29 and 30); and right to vote and become members of the union and state legislatures.
Several Offices can also be occupied exclusively by Citizensonly:-
President (Article 58(1)(a), Vice-president (Article 66(2)), Judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124(3)) and High court (Article 217(2)), governor of a state (Article 157), attorney general (Article 76(1)) and advocate general (Article 165).
Equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India (Article 14 ) and protection of life or personal liberty (Article 21) are applicable to Non-Citizens as well.
How to get Indian citizenship for foreigners?
Indian citizenship can be acquired through birth (Section 3), descent (Section 4), registration (Section 5), ‘naturalization’ (Section 6), and the incorporation of a foreign territory into India (Section 7).
Provisions under the Citizenship Act, 1955:
The Act provides for the acquisition of Indian citizenship in the following ways:
i) Citizenship by birth: Anyone born in India on or after January 1, 1950, would be deemed a citizen by birth. This limit was further amended to include those born between January 1, 1950, and July 1, 1987.
By the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003, persons born after December 3, 2004, would be deemed to be citizens of India if either of the parents is Indian or one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other was not an illegal migrant at the time of the person’s birth.
“Illegal migrant” means a foreigner who has entered India: without a valid passport or travel documents; or with a valid passport or travel documents but remained in the country beyond the permitted period of time.
ii) Citizenship by descent: A person born outside India shall be deemed to be a citizen of India if either of the person’s parents was a citizen of India at the time of his/her birth provided that the birth is registered within one year of its occurrence or commencement of the Act, whichever is later, at the Indian consulate.
iii) Citizenship by registration: A person may be registered as a citizen of India if the person is married to a citizen of India or has been a resident of India for five years immediately before making an application for registration.
iv) Citizenship by naturalization: A person is granted a certificate of naturalization if the person is not an illegal migrant and has resided in India for 12 months before making an application to seek the certificate. Of the 14 years preceding this 12-months duration, the person must have stayed in India for 11 years.
v) Citizenship by incorporation of territory: If any new territory becomes a part of India, the government of India shall specify the persons of the territory to be citizens of India.
If the central government is of the opinion that an applicant is a person who has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace, or human progress generally, it may waive all or any conditions specified to attain Indian citizenship.
What are the provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019?
The newly amended law provides for granting of Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
The law will not be extended to Rohingya Muslims persecuted in Myanmar; Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan; Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan; Tamils in Sri Lanka; and atheists in Bangladesh.
Previously citizens of India were not permitted to hold dual citizenship and this provision was laid down by the Constitution of India. Thus, a person was not permitted to hold any other country’s passport with an Indian passport.
- This provision raises many problems, thus High-Level Committee on Indian Diaspora recommended the Government of India provide Overseas Citizenship of India as specified in Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1995.
- Earlier travelling required the travellers of Overseas Citizenship of India card to carry a passport and it should have a lifetime visa. But this provision was rejected and it is not mandatory to carry.
Availing dual citizenship of India and another country requires certain strict provisions. Earlier there was no provision for dual citizenship in India. These certain provisions are required to be fulfilled to obtain dual citizenship in India
- When a person from another country is working in India and their child is born in India, then dual citizenship is granted to the child until the period of employment in India.
- A minor of Indian origin has the right to hold dual citizenship of India as well as another country. The minor is provided with dual citizenship so that the minor child chooses the preference of nationality before six months of attaining the age of eighteen.
Also Read: Framing Of The Indian Constitution
Article 5: Citizenship At The Commencement Of The Constitution:
At the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and –
(a) who was born in the territory of India; or
(b) either of whose parents were born in the territory of India; or
(c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India?
In the case of Mohd. Reza Debastani v State of Bombay it was seen that the appellant’s request for citizenship in India was rejected. The appellant had come to India with his uncle and after several years of stay, he went to Iraq on pilgrimage. Then he was permitted to stay in India for years with repeated extensions. But then he was denied and thus he pleaded. Then he returned to Iraq a got employed, this fact was enough to satisfy that he can’t be granted citizenship of India according to the provisions made.
Article 6: Rights Of Citizenship Of Certain Persons Who Have Migrated To India From Pakistan:
Notwithstanding anything in article 5, a person who has migrated to the territory of India from the territory now included in Pakistan shall be deemed to be a citizen of India at the commencement of this Constitution if –
(a) he or either of his parents or any of his grand-parents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 (as originally enacted); and
(b)(i) in the case where such person has so migrated before the nineteenth day of July 1948, he has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India since the date of his migration, or
(ii) in the case where such person has so migrated on or after the nineteenth day of July 1948, he has been registered as a citizen of India by an officer appointed on that behalf by the Government of the Dominion of India on an application made by him therefor to such officer before the commencement of this Constitution in the form and manner prescribed by that Government:
Provided that no person shall be so registered unless he has been resident in the territory of India for at least six months immediately preceding the date of his application.
Article 7: Rights Of Citizenship Of Certain Migrants To Pakistan:
Notwithstanding anything in articles 5 and 6, a person who has after the first day of March 1947, migrated from the territory of India to the territory now included in Pakistan shall not be deemed to be a citizen of India:
Provided that nothing in this article shall apply to a person who, after having so migrated to the territory now included in Pakistan, has returned to the territory of India under a permit for resettlement or permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law and every such person shall for the purposes of clause (b) of Article 6 be deemed to have migrated to the territory of India after the nineteenth day of July 1948.
In the case of the State of Bihar v Kumar Amar Singh the wife left her husband and went to Karachi. According to her statement, she went to Karachi temporarily for treatment. Then she returned back to India and was permitted to stay as she stated that she was Pakistan domicile. After the expiry of the period, she returned back to Pakistan. Then she wanted to get permanent citizenship in India when her property in India was to be taken under custody. it was held that as she had migrated before the date stated in the provision, she won’t be given permanent citizenship.
Article 8: Rights Of Citizenship Of Certain Persons Of Indian Origin Residing Outside India:
Notwithstanding anything in article 5, any person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 (as originally enacted), and who is ordinarily residing in any country outside India as so defined shall be deemed to be a citizen of India if he has been registered as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where he is for the time being residing on an application made by him therefor to a such diplomatic or consular representative, whether before or after the commencement of this Constitution, in the form and manner prescribed by the Government of the Dominion of India or the Government of India.
Article 9: Persons Voluntarily Acquiring Citizenship Of A Foreign State Not To Be Citizens:
No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of article 5 or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of article 6 or article 8 if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.
In the case of the State of U.P VRehematulla, it was held that the Central Government is authorized to take action against people who have acquired foreign citizenship and have lost the citizenship of India but are still residing in the country.
Article 10: Continuance Of The Rights Of Citizenship:
Every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the foregoing provisions of this Part shall, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by Parliament, continue to be such a citizen.
In the case of Ebrahim VazirMavat v State of Bombay, the constitutional validity of the Influx from Pakistan Control Act,1949 was put forward. This act provided that when a person has the domicile of either India or Pakistan, can’t enter the premises of the above-stated countries without permission. And if any person goes against the rule then he would be convicted of the offense mentioned in the act. According to Section 7, a person can be denied citizenship by the Central Government on certain grounds. It was held that removing a citizen from the country under Section 7 of the Constitution of India would amount to a deprivation of the right of citizenship as mentioned in Part II of the constitution.
Article 11: Parliament To Regulate The Right Of Citizenship By Law:
Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Part shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship.
Non-resident Indian(NRI) and Overseas Citizenship of India(OCI):
Overseas Indians, officially known as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), are people of Indian birth or ancestry who live outside the Republic of India. According to a Ministry of External Affairs report, there are 32 million NRIs and OCIs residing outside India and overseas Indians comprise the world’s largest overseas diaspora They are forms of permanent residency available to people of Indian origin and their spouses which allows them to live and work in India indefinitely. Despite the name, OCI status is not citizenship and does not grant the right to vote in Indian elections or hold public office. The Indian government can revoke OCI status in a wide variety of circumstances. As of 2020, there are 6 million holders of OCI cards among the Indian Overseas
- A foreign citizen of Indian origin is given the permission of immigration to live and work in the Republic of India, this is known as Overseas Citizenship of India.
- It was introduced for the purpose of granting dual citizenship.
- It was brought to light by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.
- People with Overseas Citizenship in India are permitted certain rights
- No right to vote.
- No right to hold constitutional offices
- No right to buy agricultural properties
Requirements to apply and use Overseas Citizenship of India document:
- Should be a holder of a passport of another country
A person is eligible to get registered as Overseas Citizenship of India by the Government of India under certain conditions-
- Should be a citizen of India as per dated on 26th of January 1950 or after the date stated.
- The person’s grandfather or grandparents should be a citizen of India.
- When the person’s grandfather or grandparents are a citizen of India and the person is a minor child.
- When a person’s both parents are a citizen of India or either of the parents is a citizen of India and the person is the minor child.
- When the person’s spouse is of foreign origin of a citizen of India or holder of Overseas Citizen of India and the marriage has been registered for more than two years.
- Exception: if the person’s either parents or grandparents or great grandparents had or having citizenship of Pakistan or Bangladesh, is eligible for registration under Overseas Citizen of India
Application for Applying for Overseas Citizenship in India(OCI):
Application for Overseas Citizenship of India is submitted online.
- A person while submitting the application for Overseas Citizenship of India has to attach a photograph of him/ her in the application.
- It is mandatory for the person to produce all the documents required for verification, to prove the eligibility criteria.
- The person is required to submit the application fee.
- Application submitted outside of India is charged with the amount of US$275
- The application submitted inside India is charged with the amount of Rs. 15,000
- The person is required to produce the proof of citizenship he is currently possessing and in addition, he needs to produce a photocopy of the passport. And the passport must be having the validity of six months at least
- If the application made by the person is within the Indian jurisdiction, then it is mandatory for him to submit a photocopy of the Indian visa.
- The person is required to produce proof that either of his/her parents or grandparents or great-grandparents are citizens of India.
- The person needs to produce a photocopy of the Indian visa, photocopy of the Domicile Certificate, and photocopy of the Nativity Certificate of either of his/her parents or grandparents, or great-grandparents.
- If the above-stated documents produced are checked and the basis of Indian origin is proved then the person is required to show that the relationship stated above is a lawful relationship.
- The documents required to prove the relationship can be a birth certificate in which both the parent’s identity is mentioned.
- Till the completion of 20 years of age, a new passport is to be issued.
- After attaining the age of 50 years it is required to re-issue the Overseas Citizen of India registration certificate as well as the visa.
- For the person between the age of 21 to 50, It is not mandatory to re-issue the document of Overseas Citizen of India to get a new passport.
Privileges for the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders:
- The Overseas Citizen of India cardholders is given multiple-entry, multi-purpose visa forever.
- Their period of stay in India is not restricted.
- Uniformity is provided to the non-resident Indians in the matter of financial, economic, and educational fields.
- Uniformity is maintained between the non-resident Indians and resident Indians in the domestic Airfares.
- The non-resident Indians are given the right to employment in the private sector.
- Overseas Citizen of India cardholders is exempted from producing employment visa and from registration with the Overseas Citizen of India Foreigners Regional Registration Office for the job.
- OCI holders are exempted to apply for the Inner Line Permit or Protected Area Permit. They are allowed to travel around any part of India.
Disadvantages of OCI Card:
- The OCI cardholders do not have the right to vote.
- The OCI cardholders are exempted from the right to hold the office of the Prime Minister, President, Vice-President, Judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court, member of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly, or Council.
- The OCI cardholders are exempted from the right of employment in government sectors.
- The OCI cardholders have no right to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
Cancellation of OCI card:
The followings are the conditions in which OCI is canceled according to Section 7D of the Citizenship Act,1995
- If the registration was based on the facts of false representation, concealment of facts and the OCI was obtained.
- If the OCI cardholder’s action is not according to the law established by the Constitution of India.
- During any war relating to India, if it is found that any OCI cardholder was involved with the enemies and had unlawful communication or any trade or business that helped the enemy during the course of the war.
- If an OCI cardholder is sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than two years.
The existing registration of OCI can be canceled through the provisions of Section 7D of the Citizenship Act,1995. The Government of India has the right to cancel the OCI if it has been obtained by false representation or concealment of facts.
Renunciation of OCI:
When the person has registered for the OCI document, but they find it necessary to abstain from it and withdraw the application, then renunciation of OCI is done. The provisions followed in the procedure of renunciation of OCI are laid down in Section 7C of the Citizenship Act.
Person of Indian Origin
When a person of Indian origin has been entitled to the passport of other countries, they hold a Person of Indian Origin Card. But the passport should not be from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The Person of Indian Origin Card ceased to work on 9th January 2015 and has been merged with the OCI card provision. Thus the holders of The Person of Indian Origin Card are treated as OCI cardholders.
Certain conditions are required to be fulfilled to issue the Person of Indian Origin Card as follows.
- If the person has never been an Indian passport holder.
- If the person’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were residing permanently in India and never had citizenship in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- If the person’s spouse is a citizen of India or a PIO cardholder.
Renunciation (Waiving) of Indian Citizenship:
Under Section 8 of the Citizenship Act,1995 the provisions for renunciation of citizenship have been laid down
- When both the parents are no more citizens of India, then their minor child is given the right to choose the nationality of his/her preference within the given period of time, after he/she attains the age of eighteen
- When a citizen of India has attained the age of maturity or capacity and decides to renunciate the citizenship of India then he can submit his renunciation by registering under the prescribed authority.
- After submission to the prescribed authority, the person ceases to be a citizen of India.
- But if the person submits the request for renunciation of citizenship during the period of war India is engaged in then the request would be kept pending until directed by the Central Government of India.
Termination of Indian Citizenship:
According to Section 9 in the Citizenship Act,1995 the following provisions are provided for the termination of Citizenship
- When a citizen of India voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, then he ceases to be a citizen of India.
- But a citizen of India who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of some other country during the period of war, then his citizenship won’t be ceased till the Central Government directs..