The term citizenship refers to the enjoyment of full membership of any community or state in which a citizen; enjoys civil and political rights. It can be defined as a legal relationship of an individual with a particular state which is expressed by pledging his loyalty towards state and by carrying out duties like paying taxes, serving in the army during need, respecting national principles and values etc.
The Constituent Assembly incorporated a generalized provision through Article 11 for the Parliament to regulate the citizenship by law. However, when it adopted the Constitution it brought into force Part 2 of Constitution for Citizenship with Articles 5-11 dealing with it which states as follows:
Article 5 states that “every person” who has domicile in the territory of India and:
• Who was born in the territory of India or
• Either of whose parents were born in the territory of India or
• Who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than 5 years immediately preceding such commencement shall be a citizen of India
Article 6: Rights of Citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from the territory now included in Pakistan shall be deemed to be a citizen of India at the commencement of this Constitution
Article 7: Rights of Citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan is a special provision for persons who have migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 but returned to India subsequently.
Article 8: These are Rights of Citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India for the purpose of employment, education, and marriage
Article 9: Persons who voluntarily acquire citizenship of a foreign state will not be citizens of India.
Article 10: Every person who is citizen of India under any provisions of this part will be subject to any law enacted by the Parliament.
Citizenship Act of 1955 and its Amendments
1. Citizenship Act of 1955 deals with acquisition and termination of citizenship after the commencement of Constitution. The provisions under it include:
• A person born in India after 26th January 1950 would be citizen of India except those of children of diplomats and enemy aliens cannot be citizens of India by birth
• Any person born after 26th January 1950 would be citizen of India subject to certain requirements, for example either parent (mother or father) to be a citizen of India
• Certain categories of citizens can acquire citizenship by registration in the prescribed manner
• Foreigners could acquire Indian citizenship by naturalization on certain conditions
• If any territory becomes part of India, Government of India could specify the conditions for them becoming citizens
• Citizenship could be lost by termination, renunciation, deprivation on certain grounds
• Citizen of a Commonwealth country would have status of a Commonwealth citizen in India
2. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 1986: This act specifically deals with the citizenship of the state of Assam. It mentions that illegal migrants to get citizenship need to be registered with Indian consulate in prescribed format.
3. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 1992: According to this Act any person born outside India is considered as citizen of India by virtue of Citizenship by Descent if either of the parents was citizen at the time of his birth.
4. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2003: This Act introduces several provisions for overseas citizens regarding their registration, rights in India etc.
5. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2005: This Act is based on the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. It provides for dual citizenship to PIO’s of 16 countries.
Modes of acquisition of Citizenship
Loss of Citizenship
The Citizenship Act of 1955 deals with loss of citizenship also in addition to acquisition. Accordingly, it is carried by the following means:
Overseas Citizen of India
According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2003, overseas citizen of India includes a person:
• Of Indian origin being a citizen of a specified country
• Was citizen of India immediately becoming citizen of other country and registered as OCI by the central government
An NRI is a citizen of India who holds Indian passport and has temporarily immigrated to other country either for employment or education or any other purpose.
Persons of Indian Origin
A PIO is a person of India origin whose parents or grandparents are citizens of India but he is not citizen of India but of other country.
The issue of citizenship plays a vital role in a democratic nation state and hence citizenship is a significant principle of a democratic polity.