Acquisition of Citizenship
Citizenship by descent:
A person born outside India shall be a citizen of India by descent if,
(a) On or after the 26th day of January, 1950, but before the 10th day of December, 1992, if his father is a citizen of India at the time of his birth;
(b) On or after the 10th day of December 1992, if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth:
Provided that if the father of a person referred to in clause (a) was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of India unless:-
(a) His birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of its occurrence or the commencement of this Act, whichever is later, or, with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period.
(b) His father is, at the time of his birth, in service under a Government in India:
Provided further that if either of the parents of a person referred to in clause (b) was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this section unless-
(a) His birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of its occurrence or on or after the 10th day of December, 1992, whichever is later, or, with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period.
(b) Either of his parents is, at the time of his birth, in service under a Government of India.
On or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, a person shall not be a citizen of India by virtue of this section, unless his birth is registered at an Indian consulate.
(i) Within one year of its occurrence or the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, whichever is later; or
(ii) With the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period:
Provided also that no such birth shall be registered unless the parents of such person declare, in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed, that the minor does not hold the passport of another country.
(1A) A minor who is a citizen of India by virtue of his section and is also a citizen of any other country shall cease to be a citizen of India if he does not renounce the citizenship or nationality of another country within six months of attaining full age.
(2) If the Central Government so directs, a birth shall be deemed for the purposes of this section to have been registered with its permission, notwithstanding that its permission was not obtained before the registration.
(3) Any male person born outside undivided India who was, or was deemed to be, a citizen of India at the commencement of the Constitution shall be deemed to be a citizen of India by descent only.
Citizenship by Registration
Subject to the provisions and such other conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, the Central Government may, on an application made in this behalf, register as a citizen of India any person not being an illegal migrant who is not already such citizen by virtue of the Constitution or of any other provision of this Act if he belongs to any of the following categories, namely:
- A person of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration.
- A person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India.
- 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.
- Minor children of persons who are citizens of India.
- A person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India.
- 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.
- 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.
Citizenship by naturalization
Where an application is made by any person not being an illegal migrant for the grant of a certificate of naturalization, the Central Government may, if satisfied that the applicant is qualified for naturalization under the provisions of the Third Schedule, grant to him a certificate of naturalization:
- Provided that if in the opinion of the Central Government, the applicant is a person who 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 conditions specified.
- The person to whom a certificate of naturalization is granted shall on taking the oath of allegiance in the form specified in the Second Schedule, be a citizen of India by naturalization as from the date on which that certificate is granted.
Termination of Citizenship
Termination of citizenship
Any citizen of India who by naturalization, registration otherwise voluntarily acquires, or has at any time between the 26th January, 1950 and the commencement of the Act regarding this, voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country shall, upon such acquisition or, as the case may be, such commencement, cease to be a citizen of India:
- Provided that nothing shall apply to a citizen of India who, during any war in which India may be engaged, voluntarily acquires, the citizenship of another country, until the Central Government otherwise directs.
- If any question arises as to whether, when or how any citizen of India has acquired the citizenship of another country, it shall be determined by such authority, in such manner, and having regard to such rules of evidence, as may be prescribed in this behalf.
- Any person who, for the purpose of procuring anything to be done or not to be done, knowingly makes any representation which is false in a material particular shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with both.
Single Citizenship of India
The Constitution of India has established a single and uniform citizenship for the whole of the country. In a federal State like the United States of America there is dual citizenship.
A citizen in a federal State owes firstly allegiance to the Unit and secondly to the union there are two sets of Government in a federal polity and thus it follow dual citizenship. But in case of India, though it is a Federal State; there is single citizenship.
It implies that all Indian citizens owe allegiance to the Indian Union. Any citizen, irrespective of his birth or residence, is entitled to enjoy civil and political rights throughout India in all States and Union Territories. The Indian Constitution does not recognize State citizenship and as such there is no distinction between the citizens of two or more States.
Further, there is an exception to this rule when applied to Kashmir. No one other than a permanent resident of Kashmir can acquire landed property in Kashmir; but it is a purely temporary provision to be abolished when Kashmir is fully integrated to the Indian Union. The claim of Fundamental Rights is common to all citizens.
Article 15 of the Constitution provides that the State should not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. Single citizenship is a great step forward in the creation of a united and integrated India.
As a result, the citizens of India are clothed with common civil and political rights all over the country. A single citizenship for the entire country removes many of the artificial State barriers that prevailed in pre- independence days and facilitates the freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse throughout the territory of India.
Currently, the Constitution of India does not allow dual citizenship and PIOs and OCIs are often mistaken as dual citizens or dual nationals. A PIO is simply defined to be a person registered as a PIO cardholder under the Ministry of Home Affairs scheme.1 An OCI is a person registered as an overseas citizen of India under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (the “Act”). PIOs and OCIs essentially enjoy certain rights in India, on par with Indian nationals.
In response to growing demands to introduce dual citizenship from its overseas diaspora, India introduced the concept of the person of Indian origin (a “PIO”) in 2002 and an overseas citizen of India (an “OCI”) in 2006 as categories of persons who enjoy certain legal rights in India. This article summarises the rights that PIOs and OCIs have in India and examines the impact of the recently introduced Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 (the “Amendment Act”).
The Amendment Act (which amended the Act) was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 27 February 2015 and passed by the Lok Sabha on 2 March 2015. The bill was subsequently introduced in the Rajya Sabha and was cleared on 4 March 2015. The bill received the assent of the President of India on 10 March 2015 and is deemed to have come into force on 6 January 2015. The Amendment Act introduces the concept of an ‘Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder’ (an “OCC”) that essentially replaces and merges together OCIs and PIOs.