Can you be in 5 types of citizens/domiciles in the Indian Constitution?
Citizenship or domicile signifies the relationship between an individual and the state. Like any other modern state, India has two types of people, citizens and non-citizens (aliens). Citizens are legal members of the Indian State and owe allegiance to it. They enjoy all civil and political rights. In this article, “Which 5 legitimate categories of citizenship are you in?”, the topic is described and discussed to make all categories of citizenship clear and simple with the help of different headings and sub-headings like: What are constitutional provisions of citizenship in India?, Acquisition and Determination of Indian Citizenship, What are provisions under Indian Citizenship Act, 1955?, How many times Indian Citizenship Act 1955 is amended?, What are the provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019?, Citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of territory in India, Articles 5 to 11 of Part-II, November 26, 1949, January 26, 1950, Overseas citizen of India (OCI), Commonwealth Citizenship, etc.
What are the constitutional provisions of citizenship in India?
In modern era, mainly in democracy, citizenship refers to a person’s allegiance to a country’s government in exchange for its protection at home and abroad. In addition, full political rights, including the right to vote and to hold public office, and civil liberties are typically granted to a native-born citizen under ‘jus soli’, a Latin legal term literal meaning, ‘right of the soil’. The other types of citizens as also in India under the Citizenship Act, 1955, such as acquired by descent, registration, naturalization, and incorporation of the territory.
The Constitution of India doesn’t prescribe a permanent provision relating to citizenship in India. It simply describes categories of persons who are deemed to be citizens of India and leaves citizenship to be regulated by law made by the parliament under Art. 11.
The provisions of citizenship in India are listed in the Union List under the Constitution and so Parliament has the exclusive jurisdiction over it.
The Constitution of India does not define the term ‘citizen’ but its details covering various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship are given in Part-II, Articles 5 to 11.
All the provisions of the Constitution came into being on January 26, 1950, when it was enforced except citizenship. Articles 5 to 9 of Part-II, which cover citizenship, were enforced on November 26, 1949, itself when the Constitution was adopted.
There were four categories of persons, identified between Articles 5 and 8 of the Indian Constitution, who could be eligible to become citizens of India, such as:
Article 5: Citizenship at the adoption of the Constitution.
At the adoption of the Constitution on November 26, 1949,
- All those domiciled and also born in India were given citizenship; or
- All those who were domiciled but not born in India, but either of whose parents was born in the territory of India, were considered citizens.
- Anyone who had been an ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement shall be a citizen of India.
Article 6: Citizenship of migrants to India from Pakistan.1
Since Independence was preceded by Partition and migration, Article 6 laid down that
- Anyone who migrated to India before July 19, 1949, would automatically become an Indian citizen if either of his parents or grandparents was born in India.
- But those who entered India after this date and their parents or grandparents were born in India needed to register themselves after 6 months of residing.
Article 7: Citizenship of migrants to Pakistan but returned to India.
Those citizens of India who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947, but returned to India (refugees) on the basis of the permit for resettlement in India, were entitled to become a citizen of India if they registered themselves as a citizen of India, after residing for at least six months immediately before the date of applying for registration, by an officer appointed by the government of India.
Article 8: Citizenship of persons of Indian origin residing outside India.
Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who, or either of whose parents or grandparents, was born in India (as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935) could register himself or herself as an Indian citizen with Indian Diplomatic Mission in the country where they were residing.
Article 9: Automatic termination of Indian citizenship on acquiring foreign citizenship.
No person shall be a citizen of India under articles 5 to 8 if he/she has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.
Article 10: Continuance of the rights of citizenship
Art.10 says that every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the foregoing provisions of this Part-II shall, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by Parliament, continue to be such citizen.
Article 11: Indian Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law
This Art.11 empowers Parliament to make any provision concerning the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all matters relating to it.
Acquisition and Determination of Indian Citizenship
The Constitution of India simply categorises persons who are deemed to be citizens of India on January 26, 1950, the day on which the Indian Constitution was promulgated, and leaves citizenship to be regulated by law made by the Parliament under Art. 11. And thus, the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 was enacted in the exercise of this provision.
What are provisions under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955?
According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, there are 5 ways in which Indian citizenship2 can be acquired. These are by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and incorporation of territory.
(1) Citizenship by Birth in India
(a) Any person born in India on or after January 1, 1950, would be deemed a citizen by birth.
(b) This limit was further amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, to include those born between January 1, 1950, and July 1, 1987, as a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.
(c) According to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003, every person born in India on or after 3rd December 2004 is a citizen of India if both his/her parents are Indian citizens or at least one parent is a citizen and the other is not an “illegal migrant”* at the time of his/her birth.
Note: *“Illegal migrant” means a foreigner who has entered India without a valid passport or travel documents, or with a valid passport or travel documents but remained in the country beyond the permitted period. Another category, ‘Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)’ was also inserted through the CA Act, 2003.
(2) Citizenship by Descent in India
(a) A person born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, is a citizen of India by descent if his/her father was a citizen of India at the time of his/her birth.
(b) A person born outside India on or after December 10, 1992, but before December 3, 2004, is a citizen of India by descent if either of his/her parent was a citizen of India by birth. But, if the father of that person was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of India under this section unless-
- 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; or
- his father is, at the time of his birth, in service under a government in India.
(c) If a person born outside India on or after December 3, 2004, has to acquire citizenship of India, his/her parents have to declare that the minor does not hold a passport of another country and his/her birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of birth.
Note: A minor who is a citizen of India under category (c) 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 majority age.
(3) Citizenship by Registration in India
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:
(a) a person of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
(b) a person of Indian origin who ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
(c) 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;
(d) a minor children of persons who are citizens of India;
(e) a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India;
(f) 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;
(g) a person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an “Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder” (OCI) for five years, and who has been residing in India for two years before making an application for registration.
Note: A person shall be deemed to be of Indian origin if he, or either his/her parents, was born in undivided India or in such other territory which became part of India after the 15th August 1947.
(4) Citizenship by Naturalisation in India
The Government of India may, on an application, give citizenship by naturalisation to a person who is not an illegal migrant and if he/she has the following qualifications:
(a) that he is not a subject or citizen of any country where citizens of India are prevented by law or practice of that country from becoming subjects or citizens or that country by naturalization;
(b) 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;
(c) 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 12 months immediately preceding the date of the application;
(d) that during the 14 years immediately preceding the said period of 12 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 11 years;
(e) that he is of good character;
(f) that he has adequate knowledge of a language specified in Schedule VIII to the Constitution; and
(g) that in the event of a certificate of naturalization 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 organization of which India is a member or under a society, company or body of persons established in India.
Notes: The Central Government, if in the special circumstances of any particular case it thinks fit, may
- allow a continuous period of twelve months ending not more than six months before the date of the application to be reckoned, for the purposes of clause (c) above, as if it had immediately preceded that date;
- allow periods of residence or service earlier than thirteen years before the date of the application to be reckoned in computing the aggregate mentioned in clause (d) above.
- waive all or any of the above conditions for naturalisation in the case of a person who has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace, or human progress generally.
- Every naturalised citizen must take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India.
(5) Citizenship by Incorporation of Territory in India
Citizenship by incorporation of the territory is provided in Section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 which states, “If any new territory becomes a part of India, the Central Government shall, by order notified in the Official Gazette, specify the persons who shall be citizens of India because of their connection with that territory; and those persons shall be citizens of India from the date to be specified in the order.”
In other words, it means that whenever India occupies a new territory and declares it to be a part of India thereon, all those people who were previously the citizens of that particular territory before the said occupation shall now be deemed as citizens of India. Similar to “citizen by birth”, wherein a person who was born in India is automatically deemed as an Indian citizen, it is one of those methods to acquire citizenship where the acquirer does not actually apply for it.
- A citizen under this section was issued by the government of India to the people living in Pondicherry (now, Puducherry) after acquiring it from the French government in 1962.
- When Goa, Daman & Diu were taken over by the Government of India from the Portuguese colony in 1961, all persons who were citizens of those said territories were granted citizenship of India.
How many times the Indian Citizenship Act 1955 is amended?
The laws related to the Citizenship Act 1955 have been amended 9 times by the following Amendment Acts:
(1) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1957
(2) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1960
(3) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985
(4) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986
(5) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992
(6) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003
(7) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005,
(8) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1915
(9) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
Note: The Commonwealth Citizenship was also provided by the original Citizenship Act 1955. But it was repealed by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1903.
What are the provisions in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019?
The newly amended law of citizenship of India provides for granting Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
However, this amended law will not be extended to Rohingya Muslims persecuted in Myanmar, Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan, Tamils in Sri Lanka, and atheists in Bangladesh.
Copyright © Writer (Dr. Md. Usmangani Ansari)
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1P.M. Bakshi, The Constitution of India, Universal Law Pub. Co, Eighth Ed, P. 8
2Dr. D.D. Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India, 19th Ed, Reprint 2002, P.76