From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Citizenship of India
Mains level : Read the attached story
More than six lakh Indians renounced citizenship in the past five years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha.
Citizenship in India
- Citizenship is in the Union List under the Constitution and thus under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
- The Constitution does not define the term ‘citizen’ but gives, in Articles 5 to 11, details of various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship.
- Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on January 26, 1950, these articles were enforced on November 26, 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted.
Various provisions for Indian Citizenship
- It provided for citizenship on the commencement of the Constitution.
- All those domiciled and born in India were given citizenship.
- Even those who were domiciled but not born in India, but either of whose parents was born in India, were considered citizens.
- Anyone who had been an ordinary resident for more than five years, too, was entitled to apply for citizenship.
- 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 needed to register themselves.
- Even those who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 but subsequently returned on resettlement permits were included within the citizenship net.
- The law was more sympathetic to those who migrated from Pakistan and called them refugees than to those who, in a state of confusion, were stranded in Pakistan or went there but decided to return soon.
- Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who, or either of whose parents or grandparents, was born in India could register himself or herself as an Indian citizen with Indian Diplomatic Mission.
Various Amendments for Citizenships
- According to Article 11, Parliament can go against the citizenship provisions of the Constitution.
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 was passed and has been amended four times — in 1986, 2003, 2005, and 2015.
- The Act empowers the government to determine the citizenship of persons in whose case it is in doubt.
- However, over the decades, Parliament has narrowed down the wider and universal principles of citizenship based on the fact of birth.
- Moreover, the Foreigners Act places a heavy burden on the individual to prove that he is not a foreigner.
(1) 1986 amendment
- The constitutional provision and the original Citizenship Act gave citizenship on the principle of jus soli to everyone born in India.
- However, the 1986 amendment to Section 3 was less inclusive as it added the condition that those who were born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987, shall be an Indian citizen.
- Those born after July 1, 1987 and before December 4, 2003, in addition to one’s own birth in India, can get citizenship only if either of his parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.
(2) 2003 amendment
- The then government made the above condition more stringent, keeping in view infiltration from Bangladesh.
- Now the law requires that for those born on or after December 4, 2004, in addition to the fact of their own birth, both parents should be Indian citizens or one parent must be Indian citizen and other should not be an illegal migrant.
- With these restrictive amendments, India has almost moved towards the narrow principle of jus sanguinis or blood relationship.
- This lay down that an illegal migrant cannot claim citizenship by naturalization or registration even if he has been a resident of India for seven years.
(3) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
- The amendment proposes to permit members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to continue to live in India if they entered India before December 14, 2014.
- It also reduces the requirement for citizenship from 11 years out of the preceding 14 years, to just 6 years.
- Two notifications also exempted these migrants from the Passport Act and Foreigner Act.
- A large number of organisations in Assam protested against this Bill as it may grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants.
Losing of Indian Citizenship
- The Citizenship Act, 1955 also lays down the three modes by which an Indian citizen may lose his/her citizenship.
- It may happen in any of the three ways: renunciation, termination and deprivation.
- An Indian Citizen of full age and capacity can renounce his Indian citizenship by making a declaration to that effect and having it registered.
- But if such a declaration is made during any war in which India is engaged, the registration shall be withheld until the Central Government otherwise directs.
- When a male person renounces his citizenship, every minor child of him ceases to be an Indian citizen.
- Such a child may, however, resume Indian citizenship if he makes a declaration to that effect within a year of his attaining full age, i.e. 18 years.
- If a citizen of India voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, he shall cease to be a citizen of India.
- During the war period, this provision does not apply to a citizen of India, who acquires the citizenship of another country in which India may be engaged voluntarily.
- Deprivation is a compulsory termination of citizenship of India.
- A citizen of India by naturalization, registration, domicile and residence, may be deprived of his citizenship by an order of the Central Government if it is satisfied that the Citizen has:
- Obtained the citizenship by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact
- Shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India
- Unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war
- Within five years after registration or neutralization, been imprisoned in any country for two years
- Ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously
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