Citizenship and Related Issues

  • What is citizenship?
  • What does constitution say about citizenship?
  • Special rights enjoyed by citizens
  • Legislations in this regard
  • Termination of citizenship
  • What are OCI and PIO?
  • Merger of OCI and PIO
  • Other changes to citizenship provisions
  • Legislation to give citizenship to minorities
  • Bill to amend citizenship act, 1955

What is citizenship?

Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a member of a country. A person may have multiple citizenships and a person who does not have citizenship of any state is said to be stateless.

What does constitution say about citizenship?

The provisions of citizenship are covered by Articles 5 to 11 and are embodied in Part II of the Constitution.

 

  • Article 5 refers to citizenship not in any general sense but to citizenship on the date of the commencement of the Constitution.
  • Articles 6 and 7 deal with two categories of persons, namely, those who were resi­dents in India but had migrated to Pakistan and those who were residents in Pakistan but migrated to India.
  • Article 8 deals with Rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India
  • Under Article 9 of the Constitution, and person who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of any foreign State, even if qualified for Indian citizenship under any provision of the Constitution, may not be a citizen of India.
  • Article 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 shall, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by Parliament, continue to be such citizen.
  • Article 11 deals with power of Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law and states that 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.

Special rights enjoyed by citizens

Fundamental Rights provided in Indian constitution are available to citizens of India only; some of the fundamental rights which are not enjoyed by a non-citizen of India are:

  • Right to be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, sex, cast or birth of place
  • Equal opportunities in public employment
  • Right of six democratic freedoms (Article 19) + Cultural & educational rights

Only citizens of India have the right:

  • To hold civil office
  • Right to vote
  • Right to be judges of courts

Again, citizens alone have the right to hold certain high offices such as those of the President, Vice-President, Governor of a State, Judge of Supreme Court and High Courts, Attorney General, etc. the right to vote to elect a member of the Lok Sabha and a Vidhan Sabha and the right to become a Member of the Parliament and a State Legislature are reserved for citizens only.

Legislations in this regard

The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.

 

  • Acquisition of Indian Citizenship as per Citizenship Act 1955: Indian Citizenship can be acquired under the following ways:
  1. Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India
  2. Citizenship by birth
  3. Citizenship by descent
  4. Citizenship by registration
  5. Citizenship by naturalization.

Termination of Indian Citizenship as per Citizenship Act 1955: One can lose citizenship of India in 3 ways – Renunciation, Termination and Deprivation

There are 3 situations under which a citizen of India may lose his Indian Nationality.

  • By Renunciation: If any citizen of India who is also a national of another country renounces his Indian citizenship through a declaration in the prescribed manner, he ceases to be an Indian citizen of registration of such declaration.
  • By Termination: Any person who acquired Indian citizenship by naturalisation, registration or otherwise,, of he or she voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country he shall have ceased to be a citizen of India from the date of such acquisition.
  • By Deprivation: The Central Government is empowered to deprive a citizen of his citizenship by possible grounds of a citizenship certificate by means of fraud, false representation, concealment of any material fact; disloyalty of disaffection towards the Constitution shown by act or speech; assisting an enemy with whom India is at war.

What are OCI and PIO?

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Merger of OCI and PIO and how it will help

The government has decided to merge the two cards of PIO and OCI and go ahead in this direction.

  • Merging PIO and OCI will lead to simplification of the rules under a single umbrella.
  • It was envisaged that merger of the card would facilitate visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country.
  • This is aimed at simplifying the visa-free entry for people of Indian origin into India.
  • The merger of the two cards could make PIO cardholders eligible for benefits already enjoyed by OCI cardholders.
  • Merging of the two cards will facilitate travel of Indians staying abroad and their participation in various activities in India.

Other changes to citizenship provisions

The Union Cabinet has approved proposals for extending several benefits to ‘persecuted’ minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India on long-term visas. Many members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have come to India fearing persecution in their home countries.

  • The beneficiaries can buy property for self-occupation or use in self-employment.
  • They are allowed free movement within the State of their stay, and can get their long-term visa papers transferred from one State to another.
  • The government has permitted them to apply for long-term visas from the place of their current residence, even if they have moved to the present place without seeking permission.
  • The government has waived the penalty on late application for extension of their short- or long-term visas. The registration fees for citizenship will be reduced to Rs. 100 from Rs. 3,000-15,000.

Soon, the Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be amended to help such persons get citizenship.

Legislation to give citizenship to minorities

  • In other legislation People belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, staying in India on a Long Term Visa, will soon be able to get citizenship.
  • The Centre will set up a 4-day camp here to grant Indian citizenship to those who migrated to India from Pakistan between 1971 and 2009. The application process is divided into three categories to bucket them according to their year of migration.

Bill to amend citizenship act, 1955

  • The government is also likely to introduce a Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955
  • Amendment:Definition of “illegal migrants” to be changed that will enable the government to grant citizenship to minorities
  • The minorities aimed are at mostly Hindus, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have fled their country fearing religious persecution

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