|The Citizenship Act, 1955|
|Parliament of India|
|Citation||Act No 57 of 1955|
|Enacted by||Parliament of India|
|Assented to||30 December 1955|
|The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986,|
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992,
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003,
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, and
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
|Along with the Constitution of India, the Citizenship Act, 1955, is the exhaustive law relating to citizenship in India.|
The conferment of a person as a citizen of India is governed by the Part II of the Constitution of India (Articles 5 to 11). According to Article 5, all the people who were resident in India at the commencement of the Constitution were citizens of India as well as people born in India. The President of India is termed the First Citizen of India.
The Indian legislation related to this matter is The Citizenship Act, 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015 and 2019. The 1986 amendment restricted citizenship by birth to require that at least one parent had to be an Indian citizen. The 2003 amendment further restricted that aspect by requiring that a parent could not be an illegal immigrant. The 2003 amendment also mandated the Government of India to construct a National Register of Citizens. The 2019 amendment provided an easier path to citizenship for minorities persecuted on the basis of religion, i.e Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsi and Christians from the neighbouring Muslim-majority countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 2014. These two measures have given rise to large-scale protests in India in 2019.
Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen. Also, according to The Passports Act, a person has to surrender his/her Indian passport and voter card, and other Indian ID cards must not be used after another country's citizenship is obtained. It is a punishable offence if the person fails to surrender the passport.
The Government of India Act 1858 established the British Raj and formally brought the majority of Indians under British imperial rule. Indians under the British Raj generally fell into two categories:
Effective from 15 August 1947, India was established as the independent Dominion of India. All Indians resident, born in or naturalised in the Indian provinces legally remained British subjects by virtue of Section 18(3) of the Indian Independence Act 1947. Indians residents in the princely states that acceded to India were also regarded as British subjects, while those resident in British protectorates retained the status of British protected persons.[note 2]
On 20 December 1961, after military action, India acquired the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli which were under the territories of Portugal. The French territories of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahé, and Yanam, were acquired under treaty of cession with France in 1954 (ratified by the French National Assembly in 1962). Previously, the French territory of Chandernagore had voted in a referendum to join the Indian Union in 1949. Sikkim was also merged with India and became a constituent state with effect from 16 May 1975. Some of the enclaves in the eastern part of India were also acquired under border agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In order to expressly provide the citizenship for people in territories as mentioned above, the central government issued the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Citizenship) Order, 1962 and Citizenship (Pondicherry) Order 1962, in exercise of its powers under section 7 of the Citizenship act and for Sikkim, the President extended the Citizenship act, and the relevant rules under Article 371-F(n) of Indian Constitution. In case of acquired enclaves, that did not necessitate legislative action, as that was only a border demarcation agreement.
People living in the territory of India as on 26 November 1949 automatically became Indian citizens through operation of the relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution coming into force, and most of these constitutional provisions came into force on 26 January 1950. The Constitution of India also made provision regarding citizenship for migrants from the territories of Pakistan which had been part of India before partition.
Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth. A person born in India on or after 1 July 1987 but before 3 December 2004 is a citizen of India if one of the parents was a citizen of India at the time of the birth. Those born in India on or after 3 December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth. In September 2013, the Bombay High Court gave a judgement that a birth certificate, passport or even an Aadhaar card alone may not be enough to prove Indian citizenship, unless the parents are Indian citizens.
In a 2012 case, the Bombay High Court ruled that a man who was born in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and entered into India was an Indian citizen and should be granted an Indian passport, since India considers all of the Kashmir region to fall within its borders.
Persons born outside India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 10 December 1992 are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
Persons who is born outside India on or after 10 December 1992 are considered citizens of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
From 3 December 2004 onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian diplomatic mission within one year of the date of birth. In certain circumstances it is possible to register after one year with the permission of the Central Government. The application for registration of the birth of a child must be made to an Indian diplomatic mission and must be accompanied by an undertaking in writing from the parents of the child that he or she does not hold the passport of another country.
The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India under section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955 any person (not being an illegal migrant) if s/he belongs to any of the following categories:
Citizenship of India by naturalisation can be acquired by a foreigner who is ordinarily resident in India for 12 years (throughout the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of application and for 11 years in the aggregate of 14 years preceding the 12 months) and other qualifications as specified in Section 6(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2019)
The 1986 amendment, legislated after the Assam agitation and Assam Accord, restricted citizenship by birth to children born of Indian citizens. At least one parent had to be an Indian citizen for the child to qualify for citizenship. This was a serious restriction of the jus soli principle adopted in the Constitution and the original Citizenship Act.
The 2003 amendment further restricted the jus soli principle by requiring that no parent of the child can be an illegal immigrant for the child to qualify for citizenship. It also ruled that illegal immigrants are not eligible for acquiring citizenship by registration or naturalisation.
The 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act provides for a path to citizenship for religiously persecuted minorities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who faced "persecution or fear of persecution" in their countries and entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The Act was passed by both the houses of Parliament by 11 December 2019. It faced widespread criticism and protests on the grounds that it is discriminatory by omitting Muslims, and for violating the Assam Accord which promised 1971 as the cut-off date for the illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Renunciation is covered in Section 8 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. If an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, s/he loses Indian citizenship. In addition, any minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship from the date of renunciation. When the child reaches the age of 18, he or she has the right to have his or her Indian citizenship restored. The provisions for making a declaration of renunciation under Indian citizenship law require that the person making the declaration be "of full age and capacity".
Termination is covered in Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The provisions for termination are separate and distinct from the provisions for making a declaration of renunciation.
Section 9(1) of the act provides that any citizen of India who by naturalisation or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India. Notably, the termination provision differs from the renunciation provision because it applies to "any citizen of India" and is not restricted to adults. Indian children therefore also automatically lose their claim to Indian citizenship if at any time after birth they acquire a citizenship of another country by, for example, naturalisation or registration -- even if the acquisition of another citizenship was done as a result of actions by the child's parents.
The acquisition of another country's passport is also deemed under the Citizenship Rules, 1956 to be voluntary acquisition of another country's nationality. Rule 3 of Schedule III of the Citizenship Rules, 1956 states that "the fact that a citizen of India has obtained on any date a passport from the Government of any other country shall be conclusive proof of his/her having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of that country before that date". Again, this rule applies even if the foreign passport was obtained for the child by his or her parents, and even if possession of such a passport is required by the laws of a foreign country which considers the child to be one of its citizens (e.g., a US-born child of Indian parents who is automatically deemed to be a US citizen according to US law, and who is therefore required by US law to have a US passport in order to enter and leave the US). It does not matter that a person continues to hold an Indian passport. This rule seemingly even applies if the foreign nationality was automatically had from birth, and thus not voluntarily acquired after birth. Persons who acquire another citizenship lose Indian citizenship from the date on which they acquire that citizenship or another country's passport. The prevailing practice at a number of British diplomatic posts, for example, is to impound and return to the Indian authorities the Indian passports of those applicants who apply for and are granted British passports.
Special rules exist for Indian citizens with a connection to Goa, Daman and Diu. Rule 3A of Schedule III of the Citizenship Rules, 1956 states that "Where a person, who has become an Indian Citizen by virtue of the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, or the Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Citizenship) Order 1962, issued under section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955) holds a passport issued by the Government of any other country, the fact that he has not surrendered the said passport on or before the 19 January 1963 shall be conclusive proof of his/her having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of that country before that date."
On 16 February 1962, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India held in the case of Izhar Ahmad Khan vs Union of India that "If it is shown that the person has acquired foreign citizenship either by naturalisation or registration, there can be no doubt that s/he ceases to be a citizen of India in consequence of such naturalisation or registration."
This section needs to be updated.(February 2015)
In response to persistent demands for dual citizenship, particularly from the diaspora in North America and other developed countries, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme was introduced by amending The Citizenship Act, 1955 on 28 June 2005. The scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in Hyderabad on 9 January 2006. Indian authorities have interpreted the law to mean a person cannot have a second country's passport simultaneously with an Indian one -- even in the case of a child who is claimed by another country as a citizen of that country, and who may be required by the laws of the other country to use one of its passports for foreign travel (such as a child born in the United States or in Australia to Indian parents), and the Indian courts have given the executive branch wide discretion over this matter. Therefore, Overseas Citizenship of India is not an actual citizenship of India and thus, does not amount to dual citizenship or dual nationality or anyone no longer to use Indian IDs after OCI. Moreover, the OCI card holders does not require visa unlike a few years back when they needed to get visa from the high commission. OCI Cards are now being printed without the lifelong "U" Visa Sticker (which is normally pasted on the applicant's passport). The proof of lifelong visa will be just the OCI Card which will have "Life Time Visa" printed on it. The OCI Card will be valid with any valid passport. However, countries may consider the OCI as dual citizenship: for example, the UK government considers that, for purposes of the British Nationality Act 1981, "OCI is considered to be citizenship of another State".
This was a form of identification issued to an individual who held a passport in a country other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and could prove their Indian origin up to three generations before.
On 8 January 2011, the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, announced that the Person of Indian Origin card will be merged with the Overseas Citizen of India card. This new card proposed to be called the Overseas Indian Card.
As of 9 January 2015, the PIO card scheme has been discontinued and applicants are to apply for OCI only. All PIO Card holders were advised, from time to time, to convert PIO Card to OCI Card.
It is generally difficult to have dual citizenship of India and another country, due to the provisions for loss of Indian nationality when an Indian national naturalizes in another country (see "Loss of citizenship" above), and the requirement to renounce one's existing citizenships when naturalizing in India (see "Naturalization" above).
There are still some ways in which a person may have dual citizenship of India and another country, including:
A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking dual citizenship for overseas Indians was filed by Mr. Venkat Narayan in the Supreme Court on 6 January 2015 on the eve of the inauguration of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Gujarat's capital Gandhinagar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On 20 April 2015, the Court dismissed the PIL, holding that Mr. Narayan does not have standing to plead as he is not the aggrieved party.
Visa requirements for Indian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of India. As of 13 February 2018, Indian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 56 countries and territories, ranking the Indian passport 81st in terms of travel freedom (tied with Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo passports), according to the Henley visa restrictions index.