Polity

Citizenship Act of 1955: How could you acquire or loose Indian citizenship?

Citizenship Act of 1955

Citizenship, quite a hot topic after the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. This act has become highly controversial, leading to wide protests and agitations around India, especially in Delhi. Keeping personal political opinions aside, one should try to understand the actual laws of the country relating to citizenship, and then formulate their opinions. So, in an effort to expand the understanding on this topic, we’d be discussing the Citizenship Act of 1955 in this blog.

Citizenship Act of 1955
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Citizenship: Constitutional Provisions

Before comprehending the Citizenship Act of 1955, let’s first understand the provisions relating to citizenship mentioned in the Constitution of India, which are mentioned from Articles 5 to 11.

Article 5: Article 5 deals with the citizenship of India at the commencement of the constitution.
It states: At the commencement of this constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and –

  • who was born in the territory of India, or
  • either of whose parents was born in the territory of India, or
  • who has been 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: Article 6 deals with the rights of citizenship of India to persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan. It states: notwithstanding anything in Article 5, a person who has migrated to the territory of India from the territory of Pakistan shall be deemed as a citizen of India at the commencement of this Constitution if,

  • the particular person or his/her parents or grandparents were born in India, as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935, and
  • in the case where the person has migrated to the territory of India before 19th July 1948, he has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India since the date of his migration, or
  • Nothing in the case where such person on or after 19th July 1948, he/she has been registered as the citizen of India by any officer appointed by the Government of India. However, the person shall be registered only if he/she has been a resident of the territory of India for the past six months, preceding the date of his application.

Article 7: Article 7 deals with the rights of citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan.
It states:

  • Notwithstanding anything in Articles 5 and 6, any person who has migrated to the territory of Pakistan from the territory of India after 1st March 1947, shall not be considered a citizen of India.
  • However, nothing in this article shall apply to the person who, after having migrated to the territory of Pakistan, has now returned to the territory of India under a permit for resettlement or permanent return issued by the authority of any law, and every such person shall for the purposes of clause (b) of Article 6 be deemed to have migrated to the territory of India after 19th July 1948.

Article 8: Article 8 deals with the rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India.

  • Notwithstanding anything in Article 5, any person who or either whose parents or grandparents  were born in India as defined in the Government of India Act of 1935 and who is residing ordinarily in any country outside India shall be deemed the citizen of India. If he has been registered as a citizen of India by an Indian diplomatic or consular representative in that country on an application made by him to such diplomatic or consular representative, before or after the commencement of this constitution.

Article 9: Article 9 deals with persons voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign State not to be citizens.

  • No person shall be deemed a citizen of India through Article 6 or 8 if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign country, i.e the constitution does not allow dual citizenship.

Article 10: Article 10 deals with the continuance of the rights of citizenship.

  • Any person who is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the above-mentioned articles of this Part shall, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by the Parliament, continue to be a citizen of India.

Article 11: Article 11 deals with the provision of parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law.

  • Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Part shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship.

Citizenship Act of 1955

Citizenship act of 1955
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The Citizenship Act of 1955 deals with the provisions and procedures for acquiring the citizenship of India, and its termination, after the commencement of the constitution.

Citizenship Act of 1955, provisions for acquiring citizenship

The Citizenship Act of 1955 lays down the ways and procedures for acquiring citizenship on the basis of-

Birth: 

  • A person shall be considered a citizen of India, irrespective of the nationality of his parents,  if he is born in India on or after 26th January 1950 and before 1st July 1987.
  • A person born in India on or after 1st July 1987 and before 3rd December 2004 would be considered a citizen of India only if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person born in India on or after 3rd  December 2004 would be considered a citizen of India only if both of his parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other one is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth.
  • The children of foreign diplomats who are posted in India and enemy aliens cannot acquire the citizenship of India by birth.

Descent:

  • A person born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 and before 10th December 1992 would be considered a citizen of India by descent, given that his father is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person born outside India on or after 10th January 1992 would be deemed a citizen of India, if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person born outside India on or after 3rd December 2004 would not be considered a citizen of India unless his birth is registered at an India consulate within one year within one year of the date of his birth. Or, under some special circumstances, with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the mentioned period (1 year). The application for the registration of the birth of the minor child to an Indian consulate should include a written undertaking from the parents of the minor that he/she does not possess the passport of any other country.
  • A minor who is a citizen of India by the virtue of descent, but is also a citizen of any other country shall cease to be a citizen of India if he/she does not renounce the citizenship of that country within six months of attaining full age.

By Registration:

Citizenship Act of 1955
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The Central Government of India, on an application, register any person as a citizen of India (if he’s not an illegal migrant), if he belongs to any of the following categories:

  • A person of Indian origin who is resident in India for the past seven years, before making such an application;
  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any other country or place outside undivided India;
  • a person who is married to a citizen of India and is resident in India for the past seven years before making such an application for registration;
  • minor children of persons who are citizens of India;
  • a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered citizens of India;
  • a person of full age and capacity who, or either of whose parents, was earlier a citizen of independent India and is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months before making such an application for registration;
  • a person who is of full age and capacity, who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India cardholder for five years, and who is ordinarily resident in India for the past twelve months before making such an application for registration.
  • A person shall be considered to be of Indian origin if he, or either of his parents, was born in undivided India or any other territory that became a part of India after 15th August 1947.

All the above categories of persons must take an oath of allegiance before they are registered as citizens of India.

By Naturalisation:

Citizenship Act of 1955
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The Central Government of India, on an application, grant a certificate of naturalisation to any person, who is not an illegal immigrant, if he belongs to any of the following categories;

  • If the person is not a subject or citizen of any other country where citizens of India are prevented from becoming subjects or citizens of that country by naturalization;
  • if he is a citizen of any other country, and he undertakes to renounce the citizenship of that country in the event of his application for Indian citizenship is accepted;
  • if he has either resided in India or has been in the service of a Government in India, or partly in one government and partly in another, throughout the period of twelve months, preceding the date of his application;
  • during fourteen years preceding the above mentioned period of twelve months, he has either resided in India or has been in the service of a Government in India, or partly in one government and partly in another, for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than eleven years;
  • that he is of good character;
  • that he has adequate knowledge of any language mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution;
  • that when the certificate of naturalisation is 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 any international organization of which India is a member, or under a society, company or a body of persons established in India.

The Government of India also has the power to waive all or any of the above-mentioned conditions for naturalisation, in the case of a person who has rendered distinguished services in the fields of art, literature, philosophy, world peace, or human progress.

More importantly, every naturalized citizen must take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India.

By the incorporation of Territory:

  • If any foreign territory gets incorporated in India (becomes a part of India) then the Government of India has the authority to specify the persons of that territory, who shall be granted the citizenship of India. The specified persons would become the citizens of India from the notified date.

Special provisions as to the citizenship of persons covered by the Assam Accord:

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(These specials provisions were added by the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1985)

  • All the persons of Indian origin who came to Assam before 1st January 1966 from Bangladesh, and who has been ordinarily residents in Assam from the date of their entry into Assam shall be considered the citizen of India from 1st January 1966.
  • All the persons of Indian origin who came to Assam on or after 1st January 1966 and before 25th March 1971 from Bangladesh and who has been ordinarily resident in Assam since the date of his entry, and who has been detected as a foreigner should register himself to be a citizen of India. The registered person shall be considered a citizen of India for all purposes as from the date of expiry of a period of ten years from the date of his detection as a foreigner. However, in this mentioned period of ten years, he would have the same rights and obligations as a citizen of India, except the right to vote.
Citizenship Act of 1955, provisions for the loss of citizenship
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The Citizenship Act of 1955 lays down the ways through which a person can, who has acquired the citizenship of India by the Citizenship Act of 1955 or prior to it under the constitution, lose his citizenship:

By Renunciation:

  • A person of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship.
  • Upon the event of the registration of his declaration (renouncing his Indian citizenship), the person would cease to be a citizen of India.
  • However, if such a declaration is made during a war in which India is involved, the registration shall be withheld by the central government.
  • When a person renounces his citizenship, every minor child of such person would also loose his citizenship. But when such a child (who has lost his citizenship) attains the age of 18, his Indian Citizenship may resume.

By Termination:

  • When an Indian citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of any other country, his Indian citizenship would automatically terminate.

By Deprivation:

The Central Government of India would compulsorily terminate the citizenship of any person if he:

  • has obtained the citizenship of India by fraud
  • has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India
  • has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war
  • has, within five years after naturalisation or registration, been imprisoned in any country for two years or;
  • has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven continuous years.
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