Citizenship of India 

  • Like any other modern state, India has two kinds of people–citizens and aliens. Citizens are full members of the Indian State and owe allegiance to it. They enjoy all civil and political rights. Aliens, on the other hand, are the citizens of some other state and hence, do not enjoy all the civil and political 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 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; 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, Attorney General of India and Advocate General of states.

Constitutional Provisions of Citizenship of India 

The Constitution deals with the citizenship from Articles 5 to 11 under Part II.

  • Article 5 states that at the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and −shall be a citizen of India.
  • Article 6 states that 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.
  • Article 7 states that 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.
  • Article 8 states that notwithstanding anything in Article 5, any person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grand-parents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935, 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 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 states that 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.
  • Article 10 states that 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 the Parliament, continue to be such citizen.
  • Article 11 states that 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.
  • To sum up, these provisions deal with the citizenship of (a) persons domiciled in India; (b) persons migrated from Pakistan; (c) persons migrated to Pakistan but later returned; and (d) persons of Indian origin residing outside India
  • The other constitutional provisions with respect to the citizenship are as follows:
    1. No person shall be a citizen of India or be deemed to be a citizen of India, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign state.
    2. Every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India shall continue to be such citizen, subject to the provisions of any law
    made by Parliament.
    3. Parliament shall have the power to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship.

The Citizenship Act 1955

The provides for the acquisition of Indian Citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution in five ways; i.e. birth, descent, registration, naturalization and incorporation of territory.

a. Citizenship by birth. Any person born in India, on or after 26th January 1950 but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1st July 1987, is a citizen of India if either of his parent was a citizen of India at the time of the birth. Further, those born in India on or after 3rd December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth.

b. Citizenship by descent. Person born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 are citizen of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth. Persons born outside India on or after 10th December 1992 are considered as citizen of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth. From 3rd December 2004 onwards, person born outside India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year with the permission of the central government.

c. Citizenship by registration. Any person, who is not a citizen by virtue of the Constitution or the provisions of the Citizenship Act and belongs to any of the following categories, can apply for registration as a citizen. However, he must have resided in India for at least seven years immediately before making an application for registration as a citizen. These are:

1. a person of India origin who is ordinarily in India for seven years before making application for registration. (throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making application and for six years in the aggregate in the eight years preceding the twelve months).

2. a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided Indian;

3. 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;

4. minor children of persons who are citizens of India;

5. a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizen of India.

6. a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for one years immediately before making an application for registration;

d. Citizenship by naturalization. A foreigner, on application for naturalization to a competent authority appointed by the State, can acquire Indian citizenship provided he satisfies certain conditions like having normal resided for at least twelve years in India in a period of 14 years before making an application.

Other conditions are:

1. That he is not a citizen or subject of a country where Indian citizens are prevented from becoming citizens by naturalization;

2. that he renounces his citizenship of the other country;

3. that he has either resided in India and/or been in government service for 12 months immediately preceding the date of application;

4. that during 14 years prior to these 12 months, he has either resided and/or been in government services for not less than 11 years;

5. that he is of good character;

6. that he has an adequate knowledge of a language recognized by the Constitution;

7. that after naturalization he intends to reside in India.

If the Central government is of the opinion that the applicant has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress generally, it may waive all or any of the above conditions for naturalization in his case.

e. Citizenship by incorporation of territory. If any new territory becomes a part of India, the Government of India, the Government of India shall notify the persons of that territory to be citizens of India.

Loss of Citizenship

1. Renunciation is a voluntary act by which a person after acquiring the citizenship of another country gives up his Indian citizenship.

2. Termination takes place by operation of law. When an India citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, he automatically ceases to be an Indian citizen.

3. Deprivation is a compulsory termination of the citizenship of India obtained by Registration or Naturalization. The citizenship is deprived on the basis of an order of the Government of India, in cases involving acquisition of India citizenship by fraud, false representation and concealment of material fact or being disloyal to the Constitution etc.