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Citizenship

Study Material > Polity
  • A citizen is a person who enjoys full membership of the political community or State in which he ordinarily lives.
  • Citizens are endowed with certain rights and duties that are naturally associated with their everyday lives.
  • Citizens are different from aliens, who do not enjoy all the rights which are essential for full membership of a state.
  • In India there is a single citizenship i.e., citizenship of the Union of India. The Constitution provides for citizenship.
  • 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.
  • Aliens are of two categories—friendly aliens or enemy aliens. Friendly aliens are the subjects of those countries that have cordial relations with India. Enemy aliens, on the other hand, are the subjects of that country that is at war with India. They enjoy lesser rights than the friendly aliens, eg, they do not enjoy protection against arrest and detention (Article 22).
  • The Constitution confers the following rights and privileges on the citizens of India (and denies the same to aliens):
    1. Right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15).
    2. Right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment (Article 16).
    3. Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession (Article 19).
    4. Cultural and educational rights (Articles 29 and 30).
    5. Right to vote in elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly.
    6. Right to contest for the membership of the Parliament and the state legislature.
    7. 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.
  • Along with the above rights, the citizens also owe certain duties towards the Indian State, as for example, paying taxes, respecting the national flag and national anthem, defending the country and so on.
  • In India both a citizen by birth as well as a naturalised citizen are eligible for the office of President.
  • The provisions of citizenship are covered byArticles 5 to 11and are embodied in Part II of the Constitution.
  • It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for such matters and any other matter relating to citizenship. Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955, which has been amended in 1986, 1992, 2003 and 2005.
  • According to the Constitution, the following four categories of persons became the citizens of India at its commencement i.e., on 26 January, 1950:
    1. A person who had his domicile in India and also fulfilled any one of the three conditions, viz., if he was born in India; or if either of his parents was born in India; or if he has been ordinarily resident in India for five years immediately before the commencement of the Constitution, became a citizen of India (Article 5).
    2. A person who migrated to India from Pakistan became an Indian citizen if he or either of his parents or any of his grandparents was born in undivided India and also fulfilled any one of the two conditions viz., in case he migrated to India before July 19, 19481, he had been ordinarily resident in India since the date of his migration; or in case he migrated to India on or after July 19, 1948, he had been registered as a citizen of India. But, a person could be so registered only if he had been resident in India for six months preceding the date of his application for registration (Article 6).
    3. A person who migrated to Pakistan from India after March 1, 1947, but later returned to India for resettlement could become an Indian citizen. For this, he had to be resident in India for six months preceding the date of his application for registration2 (Article 7).
    4. A person who, or any of whose parents or grandparents, was born in undivided India but who is ordinarily residing outside India shall become an Indian citizen if he has been registered as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country of his residence, whether before or after the commencement of the Constitution. Thus, this provision covers the overseas Indians who may want to acquire Indian citizenship (Article 8).
  • CITIZENSHIP ACT, 1955: The Citizenship Act (1955) provides for acquisition and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution. This Act has been amended so far four times by the following Acts:
    1. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986.
    2. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992.
    3. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003.
    4. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.
  • Originally, the Citizenship Act (1955) also provided for the Commonwealth Citizenship. But, this provision was repealed by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • Acquisition of Citizenship: The Citizenship Act of 1955 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship, viz, birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and incorporation of territory:
    1. By Birth: A person born in India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 1st July 1987 is a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his parents. A person born in India on or after 1st July 1987 is considered as a citizen of India only if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth. Further, those born in India on or after 3rd December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their 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 their birth. The children of foreign diplomats posted in India and enemy aliens cannot acquire Indian citizenship by birth.
    2. By Descent: A person born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent, if his father was a citizen of India at the time of his birth. A person born outside India on or after 10th December 1992 is considered as a citizen of India if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth. From 3rd December 2004 onwards, a person born outside India shall not be a citizen of India by descent, unless his birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth or with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period. An application, for registration of the birth of a minor child, to an Indian consulate shall be accompanied by an undertaking in writing from the parents of such minor child that he or she does not hold the passport of another country.
    3. By Registration: The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he belongs to any of the following categories, namely:-
      1. A person of Indian origin  who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
      2. A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
      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 citizens 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 year immediately before making an application for registration;
      7. A person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India for five years, and who has been residing in India for one year before making an application for registration. An applicant shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident in India if –
      8. He has resided in India throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making an application for registration; and
      9. He has resided in India during the eight years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months for a period of not less than six years.
      10. Note: A person shall be deemed to be of Indian origin if he, or either of his parents, was born in undivided India or in such other territory which became part of India after the 15th August, 1947.
    4. By Naturalisation: The Central Government may, on an application, grant a certificate of naturalisation to any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he possesses the following qualifications:
      1. that he is not a subject or citizen of any country where citizens of India are prevented from becoming subjects or citizens of that country by naturalisation;
      2. that, if he is a citizen of any country, he undertakes to renounce the citizenship of that country in the event of his application for Indian citizenship being accepted;
      3. that he has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India or partly the one and partly the other, throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the application;
      4. that during the fourteen years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months, he has either resided in India or been in the service of a Government in India, or partly the one and partly the other, for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than eleven years;
      5. that he is of good character;
      6. that he has an adequate knowledge of a language specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution3, and
      7. that in the event of a certificate of naturalisation being granted to him, he intends to reside in India, or to enter into or continue in, service under a Government in India or under an international organisation of which India is a member or under a society, company or body of persons established in India.

        However, the Government of India may waive all or any of the above conditions for naturalisation in the case of a person who has rendered distinguished service to the science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress. Every naturalised citizen must take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India.

    5. By Incorporation of Territory: If any foreign territory becomes a part of India, the Government of India specifies the persons who among the people of the territory shall be the citizens of India. Such persons become the citizens of India from the notified date. For example, when Pondicherry became a part of India, the Government of India issued the Citizenship (Pondicherry) Order, 1962, under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Loss of citizenship: The Citizenship Act, 1955, prescribes three ways of losing citizenship whether acquired under the Act or prior to it under the Constitution, viz, renunciation, termination and deprivation.
    1. By Renunciation: Any citizen of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship. Upon the registration of that declaration, that person ceases to be a citizen of India. However, if such a declaration is made during a war in which India is engaged, its registration shall be withheld by the Central Government. Further, when a person renounces his Indian citizenship, every minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship. However, when such a child attains the age of eighteen, he may resume Indian citizenship.
    2. By Termination: When an Indian citizen voluntarily (consciously, knowingly and without duress, undue influence or compulsion) acquires the citizenship of another country, his Indian citizenship automatically terminates. This provision, however, does not apply during a war in which India is engaged.
    3. By Deprivation: It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government, if:
      1. The citizen has obtained the citizenship by fraud.
      2. The citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India.
      3. The citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war.
      4. The citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalization, been imprisoned in any country for two years; and
      5. The citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.
  • Article 11 says that the Parliament will regulate the right of citizenship by the law.
  • In India, there is a single citizenship i.e., citizenship of the Union of India.
  • Availability of Rights:
    1. The Rights under Article 15, 16,19,29,30,326 of the Constitution are not available to foreigners.
    2. Article 16 and Article 326 are not available to even Overseas Citizens of India(OCI).
    3. Recently, the Government of India gave Non-Resident of India (NRIs) the right to vote. However, voting through postal ballots is not allowed. An NRI has to be present in the constituency, where he is registered as a voter, on the day of polling.
    4. Constitutional post can only be held by citizens of India and neither foreigners nor OCI/PIO.
  • Merger of OCI and PIO and how it will help: The government has decided to merge the two cards of PIO and OCI and go ahead in this direction.
    1. Merging PIO and OCI will lead to simplification of the rulesunder a single umbrella.
    2. It was envisaged that merger of the card would facilitate visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country.
    3. This is aimed at simplifying the visa-free entry for people of Indian origininto India.
    4. The merger of the two cards could make PIO cardholders eligible for benefits already enjoyed by OCI cardholders.
    5. Merging of the two cards will facilitate travel of Indians staying abroad and their participation in various activities in India.
  • Watch this video for more info:

 


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