Dual Citizenship in India

Every country decides who its citizens are and who cannot be. This might be decided by the virtue of a particular person being born in the territory of that country or a person migrating from some other country and living in the territory of the principle country over a period of time. Citizenship in India has been described under the statutory provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Part-II of the Indian constitution also provides for the citizenship in India. India follows a rule of single citizenship. Article 9(1) of the Indian Constitution explicitly states that any citizen of India, who by naturalization or registration acquires the citizenship of another country, shall cease to be an Indian citizen.

Dual citizenship implies a citizen having a citizenship of more than one country. India has since the very beginning taken a stand of single citizenship. It advocates single citizenship throughout its territory.

In post-independence times, all the Commonwealth nations had one membership and the citizens enjoyed the status of common Commonwealth citizens. But once these common wealth countries started to get liberation from the British, the central government issued separate citizenship to all the citizens within their country.

Where on one hand, dual citizenship has its merits, it has its own demerits too.

Merits

Single citizenship means and portrays loyalty and trust to one’s own country. Enjoying all the right of one country means to conform to the laws of the country and that the rights of those individuals are not superseded by a citizen from another country. A dual citizenship can allow one to work in both the countries and the person can choose for himself that the job prospect in which country will be more productive for him. Also, dual citizenship can help the culture and environment of one country being spread to another with the help of these people having two citizenships. People having dual citizenship can own property in both the countries and enjoy their rights.

Demerits

Dual citizenship will bring confusion in the state of minds of the people. For example, people having dual citizenship will have the right to vote and exercise their political rights in both the countries. However in such a situation, it has been noted that the voting rights of both these countries might be conflicting at times and it becomes really hard for a person having dual citizenship to exercise his/her political rights. Another situation is when a person is having a dual citizenship of 2 countries who are rivals of each other, let’s say, India and Pakistan. The person having a dual citizenship in such a case will be targeted by both the nations for any terrorist activities that happen on the soil of either country. Also, these citizens might have a bias or a prejudice in their mind regarding either of the country which in every way is not very healthy for the country whom the person has a bias against. For some, the dual citizenship can be façade for doing illegal activities in the territory of one country.

The Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India which is also mistaken as dual citizenship by India. Persons of Indian Origin who migrated from India and settled in some foreign nation, other than Pakistan and Bangladesh can apply for an OCI card if their parent country allows them dual citizenship in some form or the other.Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card was issued commencing from 2002 to those individuals who can prove their Indian origin up to three generations before. An OCI card does not make a person a citizen of India. It will not get that person an Indian passport. He/she cannot take part in the election process of India, cannot hold constitutional positions such as Judges of various courts and also cannot be employed in the government jobs in India. However an OCI card holder may get benefits such as multiple entries and multi- purpose life- long visas to India, exemption from reporting at the police station for any length of stay within the country, parity with the NRIs in financial, economic and education fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

A person registered as an OCI is eligible to apply for citizenship to the Ministry of Citizenship under section 5(1)(g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 if he/she has been registered as an OCI for 5 years and has been residing in India for a period of one year in those five years. However such a person will have to renounce the citizenship of the other country.

Some countries that provide for a Dual citizenship are USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Russia and France. Countries providing single citizenship are India, China, Japan and Germany.

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