Citizenship is regulated by Constitution of India and Citizenship Act, 1955. A citizen of a country is a person, who enjoys full membership of all political community of the country. In India, citizenship law is incorporated in the constitution itself. Certain rights are reserved to the citizen of the country. Under part II of the Indian Constitution states about Citizenship (Article 5 – 11).[i]
It refers to a place where a person resides for a long duration of time/permanent home. For acquiring Indian Citizenship, Domicile is essential. Here are the following three conditions to be fulfilled for acquiring Citizenship by Domicile:
- He must have born in territory of India.
- Either of his parents must have been born in Indian Territory.
- He must have been ordinarily residing in territory of India for not less than five years, immediately after the commencement of constitution (Article 5).
Migrants from Pakistan to India – The person who came to India on or before 19th July 1948 can be called as the citizen of India, if the following conditions are fulfilled
- The person or either his parents or his grandparents were born in India as per Government of India Act, 1935.
- The person should ordinarily reside in India from the day of his migration.
The person who came to India after 19th July 1948 can be called as Citizens, if the following conditions are fulfilled
- The person or either of his parents or his grandparents was born in India as per Government of India Act, 1935
- Make an application for citizenship
- He must have a prove of residence in territory of India for six months
- The person must be registered as a citizen by the authority appointed by Government of India (Article 6)
Under article 7, if the person has acquired Indian Citizenship by fulfilling the above conditions, when the person migrates from India to Pakistan after 1st march 1947 then Citizenship will be ceased. In case the person wants to resettle in India, he can acquire Citizenship by fulfilling the conditions stated in Article 6(b). Citizenship can be granted to a person who is of Indian Origin residing outside India (Article 8). When a person voluntarily acquires the citizenship of different state then he shall not remain as citizen of India (Article 9).[ii] The citizen of India shall subject to any laws enacted by the parliament (Article 10). The parliament has the power to make any provisions regarding acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters regarding to citizenship (Article 11).[iii]
Indian Citizenship Act, 1955
Citizenship act deals with the acquisition and termination of citizenship. The citizenship act has been amended in the year 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, and 2015.[iv] Here are the different Modes of acquiring Indian Citizenship by Birth, Descent, Naturalisation, and Registration.
Citizenship by Birth (Section 3) – Every person who is born in India can acquire citizenship by fulfilling following conditions
- On or after 26th January 1950, but before 1st day of July 1987
- On or after 1st July 1987, but before 7th July 2004; either of his parents is said to be a citizen of India at the time of his birth
- After 7th July 2004, where either of his parents or both of his parents are citizens of India; the parents should not be illegal migrant at the time of his birth
A person cannot be citizen of India by this section if at the time of his birth, Either of his parents is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in that place, then they are under occupation by the enemy
Citizenship by Descent (Section 4) – A person was born outside the territory of India shall be a citizen of India by Descent. The birth of the person shall be registered within one year after the commencement of this act.
- On or after 26th January 1950, but before 10th December 1992, if the father is the citizen of India at the time of his birth
- On or after 10th December 1992, if either of his parents is the citizen of India at the time of his birth. Citizenship shall be approved only if the father is a citizen of India by Descent.
Citizenship by Registration (Section 5) – The person can also make application for registering as citizen of India. He must have resided ordinarily for seven years before making application for it. The person who is eligible for making application:
- The person who is of Indian origin ordinarily resides in India for seven years before applying for citizenship
- Minor children, whose parents are citizens of India,
- The person, who is of Indian origin and ordinarily reside outside India,
- The person who marries a citizen of India
- The person of full age and capacity, whose parents are registered as Citizen of India
Citizenship by Naturalisation (Section 6) – Citizenship can be acquired by a person who ordinarily resides in India for a period of twelve years before making the application for Citizenship.[v]
Importance of Citizenship
In India, the population is divided into two classes, as Citizenship and Aliens. The citizens carry certain advantages conferred by the constitution. The person who acquires the citizenship of the country will enjoy full civil and political rights. The citizens differ from aliens as they don’t enjoy all the rights. The rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the constitution are available to alien also. Here are some privileges of citizens
- Only the citizen has the right to become the member of the Union and the State Legislatures
- The right to vote for election to the house of the people and the legislative Assemblies of states is available to the citizen
- Certain offices under the constitution can be occupied by citizens e.g. Office of President (Article 58 (1) (a)); Vice-president (Article 67 (3) (a)); Judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124(3)) or High Court (Article 217 (2)); Attorney-general (Article 76(1)); Governor of a state (Article 157); Advocate-General of a state (Article 165).
- The right not to be discriminated against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15)
- The right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment (Article 16)
- Cultural and educational rights (Article 29 and 30)
- Right to freedom (Article 19)
The Immigrant (Expulsion from Assam) Act which came into effect from 1st March 1950 mandated expulsion of illegal immigrants from the state of Assam. To identify illegal immigrants, the National Register of Citizens was prepared for the first time in Assam during the conduct of 1951 Census. It would be an understatement to say that the NRC update is among the most discussed and contentious issues in Assam today. Many believe that this is the only feasible solution to the illegal migrant’s issue, which has led to much bloodshed. The NRC is a register containing details of all Indian citizens.
Rohingya Refugee crises –
The Rohingya are a Stateless Muslim Minority in Myanmar. It has become a major issue for India and Bangladesh. Fleeing population blames the security forces back in Myanmar for burning their villages, rapes, and mass killings. In addition, the Rohingya Muslim population is now stateless as Myanmar rejected citizenship to Rohingya people.
All the laws are governed by the Constitution of India. The draft of citizenship was created and destroyed multiple times, before incorporating the final draft in the constitution as part II; it was amended over 100 times. A person should have citizenship in a place he is ordinarily residing. Acquiring citizenship gives certain privileges in the country when compared to the aliens. So it is necessary to get citizenship.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje