Table of Contents
Parliament, by exercise of the power given to it under Article 11 of the Constitution to make any law related to citizenship, has passed the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. This Act provides for the acquisition and termination of Citizenship in India.
Part II of the Constitution provides provisions related to Citizenship. The Citizenship Act 1955 deals with matters of Citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution and are revised as per changing needs.
Constitutional provisions and the Act that deals with Indian citizenship –
- Citizenship in India is governed by Articles 5 – 11 (Part II) of the Constitution. This only discusses the persons who will be citizens of India on the commencement of Constitution on 26th January, 1950.
- But the Citizenship Act, 1955 is the legislation that broadly deals with citizenship. This has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005,2015 and 2019.
- Nationality in India mostly follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) and not jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory)
Citizenship Act, 1955 – Acquisition
Citizenship of India can be acquired in the following ways:
1. By Birth:
- Every person born in India on or after 26.01.1950 but before 01.07.1987 is an Indian citizen irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.
- Every person born in India between 01.07.1987 and 02.12.2004 is a citizen of India given that either of his/her parents is a citizen of the country at the time of his/her birth.
- Every person born in India on or after 3.12.2004 is a citizen of the country given both his/her parents are Indians or at least one parent is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.
2. By Descent (वंश के आधार पर):
- A person born outside India on or after January 26, 1950 is a citizen of India by descent if his/her father was a citizen of India by birth.
- A person born outside India on or after December 10, 1992, but before December 3, 2004 if either of his/her parents was a citizen of India by birth.
- If a person born outside India or after December 3, 2004 has to acquire citizenship, his/her parents have to declare that the minor does not hold a passport of another country and his/her birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of birth.
3. By Registration: Citizenship can also be acquired by registration. The Central government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India any person (not being an illegal migrant) but some of the mandatory rules are:
- A person of Indian origin(PIO) who has been a resident of India for 7 years before applying for registration.
- A person of Indian origin who is a resident of any country outside undivided India.
- A person who is married to an Indian citizen and is ordinarily resident for 7 years before applying for registration.
- Minor children of persons who are citizens of India.
- If a person is registered as an overseas citizen of India (a foreigner of Indian origin who is given a status to work and live in the territory of India) and is residing for one year before making the application for registration.
Note: PIO is a person who was born or whose parents were born in undivided India like Pakistan, Bangladesh or they were born in any territory that became part of India after 15.07.1947 like Sikkim etc.
4. By Naturalisation:
- Citizenship is acquired by making an application to the central government.
- For granting citizenship to a person, the criteria of the third schedule of this act must be satisfied.
- The person to whom citizenship certificate is to be granted must be of good character, must have knowledge of any language given in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, must not be an illegal migrant, and must have renounced the previous citizenship.
- The person must have resided (lived) in India for 11 years in the previous 14 years and one year immediately before the time of making the application.
Note: After the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, the number of years from 11 years has been decreased to 5 years and one year immediately before making the application. This makes a total of 6 years.
- If the person has made a significant contribution or rendered service to the fields like science, arts, literature, human progress, the government may waive off the conditions given in the third schedule of this act.
5. By Acquisition:
- If India acquires any foreign territory in future then Parliament by law shall determine the Citizenship of the inhabitants of that territory
- If any territory or state becomes part of India, then the central government shall declare it as part of the Union of India by issuing an official Gazette.
- Many territories such as Goa, Sikkim, Puducherry, Daman and Diu became part of India, and their population became citizens of India.
Termination of Indian Citizenship
Termination of citizenship is possible in three ways according to the Act:
- Renunciation: If any citizen of India who is also a national of another country renounces his Indian citizenship through a declaration in the prescribed manner, he ceases to be an Indian citizen. When a male person ceases to be a citizen of India, every minor child of his also ceases to be a citizen of India. However, such a child may within one year after attaining full age become an Indian citizen by making a declaration of his intention to resume Indian citizenship.
- Termination: Indian citizenship can be terminated if a citizen knowingly or voluntarily adopts the citizenship of any foreign country.
- Deprivation: In case a person has acquired citizenship fraudulently, or is disloyal to the constitution, or helps an enemy in war or within five years of the process of naturalization has been imprisoned for two years, or ordinarily resides outside for seven years.
why Citizenship is needed –
- Participate and vote in elections
- Most of the posts are open only to citizens
- Some fundamental rights are available only to citizens
- Most of the government schemes are available only to citizens
The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired.
- It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of the territory into India.
- The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted/oppressed minorities that are Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
- Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in their respective countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
- The Sct relaxes the time period from 11 years requirement to 5 years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
- The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds of violation of the Citizenship Act or any other laws.
Areas that are exempted:
- The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
- Also areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act’s purview.
This amendment was needed to provide relief to the victims of the partition (Hindu-Bengalis) who got stuck in East-Pakistan (Bangladesh) in early years. The religious minorities in Bangladesh are being persecuted by non-state actors (Islamic extremists). Many have crossed borders and settled down in Border States illegally and they remain stateless for years now. Thus the amendment would prove to be a huge relief for those oppressed people.
The Constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, people who belong to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries. This amendment aims to safeguard their interests.
Also Read In Simplified language: