President Pranab Mukherjee on 6 January 2015 signed the Ordinance that amends’ Citizenship Act, 1955. The ordinance provides life-long Indian visa facility to Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and exempts them from appearing before the local police station on every visit.
Earlier, Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister had approved the promulgation of ordinance to amend the Act. The ordinance was promulgated after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was not passed in either House of Parliament during the winter session of Parliament in December 2014. It was introduced in Lok Sabha on 23 December 2014.
Main Provisions of the Ordinance
• It merges Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), thus making PIO eligible for life-long visa and bringing them on equal footing with OCI.
• It relaxes the requirement of 12 months in cases related to citizenship by registration and naturalization. Instead it allows for breaks up to 30 days if the Union government is satisfied that special circumstances exist, and has recorded them in writing.
• It provides certain additional grounds on which a person may register for overseas citizenship card. Additional grounds covered are:
a) A minor child whose parent(s) are Indian citizens
b) Spouse of an Indian citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder or a person of Indian origin subject to certain conditions
c) Great grandchild of a person who is a citizen of another country, but who meets one of several conditions required for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
• It allows the Union government to cancel overseas citizenship where it is obtained by the spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder or PIO, if:
a) The marriage is dissolved by a court, or
b) The spouse enters into another marriage even while the first marriage has not been dissolved
This ordinance was the ninth ordinance promulgated by Narendra Modi-led government since it came to power in May 2014.
The ordinance is in-line with the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Indian diaspora at Madison Square Garden in New York during his September 2014 visit. During his visit, he assured the Indian diaspora that the government will merge the two schemes. He also announced that PIOs will be granted lifetime visa to India.
What: signed by the President
When: 6 January 2015