Citizenship can be defined as the full and equal membership of a political community in a country. In the modern world, nations grant their citizens certain rights as well as a collective political identity. Citizens, enjoy all political as well as civil rights which have been ensured to them by the Indian Constitution as well as the government.
Read More: Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution
Citizenship for Indians
The Indian Constitution is federal and envisages a dual polity (Centre and states), however, it provides only for single citizenship i.e., Indian Citizenship. Indian citizens owe allegiance only to the Union. Unlike federal countries like the USA and Switzerland, there is no separate state citizenship in India. India has two kinds of citizens, friendly citizens and alien citizens. Alien citizens can be categorized as,
|Friendly Alien||Enemy Alien|
|The citizens of those nations that have friendly relations with India are friendly aliens.||The country is at war with India its citizens as enemy aliens. Compared to friendly aliens, they are granted fewer rights.|
Residents also owe duties to the Indian State, such as paying taxes, upholding the flag and national anthem, and defending the country. The Constitution only grants the following benefits and rights to Indian citizens.
Read about: Salient Features of Constitution of India
Citizenship in Indian Constitution
Citizenship is covered in Part II of the Indian Constitution. It does not, however, offer any comprehensive or robust citizenship protections or status. However, the following four groups of people became citizens of India on January 26, 1950.
|Categories of Persons||Conditions|
|Domicile of India||
Person who migrated to India from Pakistan
Person who has migrated to Pakistan from India
|Whether before or after the Constitution’s commencement, the diplomatic or consular representation of India in the nation where he resides has registered him as a citizen of India.|
|He had to have lived in India for six months prior to the date of his registration application in order to qualify for this.|
Read More: Jammu and Kashmir
Citizenship Articles in Constitution of India
Individual who had his domicile in India and also fulfilled one of the three conditions; first, if an individual was born in India; second, if his mother or father was born in India; third, if he had lived in India for five years prior to the Constitution’s adopted, became a citizen of India.
Upon arriving in India from Pakistan, a person who met either of the two requirements and was born in undivided India, along with any of his parents or any of his grandparents, became a citizen of India;
First, if he arrived in India prior to July 19, 1948, he had lived there continuously since; second, if he arrived on or after July 19, 1948, he had been recognised as an Indian citizen. However, in order to be so registered, a person must have spent six months prior to the date of their registration application physically residing in India.
Read More: Constituent Assembly of India
A person who left India for Pakistan after March 1, 1947, and later went back for resettlement may be able to obtain Indian citizenship. He was required to have lived in India for six months prior to the date of his registration application for this.
A person who was born in undivided India, or whose parents or grandparents were born there, but who resides outside of India on a regular basis, becomes an Indian citizen if the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the nation where he resides registers him as such, whether before or after the Constitution’s start date. This clause, therefore, applies to any Indians living abroad who wish to become citizens of India.
No one who willingly accepted the citizenship of any foreign state shall be considered an Indian citizen or be considered to be an Indian.
Every person who is or is regarded to be an Indian citizen must remain an Indian citizen, despite any laws passed by Parliament.
With regard to citizenship acquisition, renunciation, and any other issues related to citizenship, Parliament has the authority to adopt any provisions. In order to do this, Parliament passed the Citizenship Act of 1955, a comprehensive law governing citizenship, 1955.
Read More: Article 370
Citizenship Acquisition Under Citizenship Act 1955
The Citizenship Act of 1955 regulates the acquisition and loss of citizenship following the Constitution’s inception. The following Acts have altered this Act numerous times; The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986, The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992, The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015.
|Acquisition of Citizenship||Conditions|
|A citizen of India by Birth||
|A citizen of India by Descent||
|A citizen of India by Registration||
|Citizenship by Naturalisation||
|A citizen of India by Incorporation of a Territory||
E.g. As India acquired Pondicherry in 1962
Read More: Reorganisation of States
Loss of Citizenship Under Citizenship Act 1955
Loss of citizenship occurs when any citizen of India of full age and capacity makes a declaration renouncing his/her citizenship. After this declaration is registered the person ceases to be a citizen of India. Also, when a person renounces his citizenship every minor child of that person loses Indian citizenship. However, when that child reaches the age of 18, he/she can apply to resume his/her citizenship.
If a person consciously acquires citizenship of another country, then his Indian Citizenship will be automatically terminated. The provision, nevertheless, does not apply during a war in which India is engaged.
Central Government can terminate a person’s Indian citizenship under the following conditions:
- Fraud: If a person has obtained Indian citizenship through fraud.
- Disloyalty to the Constitution: Citizens have shown disloyalty to the constitution.
- Connection with the enemy: If a citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war.
- Imprisonment of Naturalised Citizen: If a person has acquired Indian citizenship through naturalisation, and within 5 years after registration or naturalisation of citizenship, has been imprisoned in any country for more than 2 years.
- Ordinary Resident: If the citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.
Read More: Preamble of Indian Constitution
Citizenship Rights in India
There are various rights provided to Indian Citizens in the Constitution of India:
|Article 15||Citizens of India have the Right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.|
|Article 16||Citizens of India’s Right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment.|
|Article 19||Citizens of India Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession.|
|Articles 29 – 30||Citizens have Cultural rights and educational rights|
|Right to Vote||In the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly elections.|
|Right to Contest Election||For the membership of the Parliament and the state legislature.|
Note: In the USA only a citizen by birth is deemed to be eligible for being elected as the President of the USA, whereas in India both the citizen by birth or by naturalisation can contest for the election of the President or any other public posts.
Read More: Important Articles of Indian Constitution