Brief Overview of Citizenship Act, 1955

By | November 2, 2019
Citizenship Act, 1955

Article 11 expressly empowers Parliament to make laws to provide for such matters and, accordingly, Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955, to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship.

Introduction – Citizenship Act, 1955

The Republic of India is the federal country having two levels of government i.e. Centre and State where there is only single citizenship, viz. the Indian citizenship.

Before Independence, every Indian national was a British subject. After 1947, People were moving from one place to another due to the partition of India and Pakistan. It was necessary for the framers of the constitution to lay down certain provisions for demarcating Indian citizens from Pakistan and Britain.  Therefore, Article 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution put down as to who are the citizens of India at the commencement of the Constitution, i.e. January 26, 1950.

 

Citizenship Provisions In the Constitution Of India

 

Article 5

 

Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution.

 

Article 6

 

Rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan.

 

Article 7

 

Rights of citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan.

 

Article 8

 

Rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India.

 

Article 9

 

Persons voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign State not to be citizens.

 

Article 10

 

Continuance of the rights of citizenship

 

Article 11

 

Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law.

These were classified into three categories:

  • Citizens by domicile
  • Citizens by migration
  • Citizens by registration

All the above-mentioned provisions of the Constitution concerning citizenship are not comprehensive but fragmentary and skeletal. These provisions are confined mainly to defining who are citizens of India at the commencement of the Constitution but do not deal with the problem of acquisition of citizenship subsequent to that date.

Article 11 expressly empowers Parliament to make laws to provide for such matters and, accordingly, Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955, to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship.

This Act seeks to recognize five different ways of acquiring Indian citizenship, namely:

  1. By birth
  2. By descent
  3. By registration
  4. By naturalisation
  5. By incorporation of some territory into India

Citizenship by birth

According to section 3 of the act, an individual who has taken birth in India on or after 26th January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986. Further, those individuals who are born in India on or after such commencement and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth is a citizen of India by birth except when:

  1. his father is possessing the immunity as the diplomat or envoy in India without acquiring Indian citizenship, or
  2. his father belongs to the sect of an enemy alien and his birth occurs in the premises which are under enemy occupation.

Citizenship by Descent

Section 4 of Citizenship Act, 1955, provides for citizenship by descent where the individual will be a citizen of India-

  • if his birth was outside the territory of India, on or between January 26, 1950­­­ to the day of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992, provided that his father was acquiring citizenship of India at the time of his birth.
  • if his birth was outside the territory of India but after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1992, with the condition of having any of his parents was acquiring the citizenship of India at the time of his birth.

provided that in the latter case if either of the parents of such a person was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be an Indian citizen by virtue of this provision unless his birth is registered at an Indian consulate, or either of his parents is, at the time of his birth, in service under Government of India.

Citizenship by Registration

Section 5 deals with citizenship by registration under the Citizenship Act, 1955. There are certain categories of person who are not citizens of India but can become through registering themselves as Indian citizens, after taking an oath of allegiance:

  • if the person who is of India origin and is ordinarily resident in India for at least seven years before proceeding with the registration application;
  • if the person who is of India origin and is ordinarily resident in any other country or outside the territory of undivided India;
  • if the person who has solemnised his marriage with an Indian citizen and is ordinarily resident in India for at least seven years before proceeding with the registration application;
  • minor children of persons who are Indian citizens;
  • if the person is of full age and capacity who are citizens of a Commonwealth country.

Citizenship by Naturalisation

Section 6 deals with citizenship by naturalisation. A person is of full age and capacity who is citizens of a non-Commonwealth country may become a citizen by naturalisation, provided that he had resided in India for minimum twelve years out of immediate fourteen years before proceeding with the registration application;

Also, if the Central Government is satisfied that he fulfils the conditions laid down in the Act, he can become a citizen of India by naturalisation.

“These conditions are as follow:

  1. he is not a citizen or subject of a country where Indian citizens are prevented from becoming citizens by naturalization;
  2. he renounces his citizenship of the other country;
  3. he has either resided in India and/or been in government service for 12 months immediately preceding the date of application;
  4. during 14 years prior to these 12 months, he has either resided and/or been in government services for not less than 11 years;
  5. he is of good character;
  6. he has adequate knowledge of a language recognized by the Constitution;
  7. after naturalization, he intends to reside in India.

If the Central government is of the opinion that the applicant has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress generally, it may waive all or any of the above conditions for naturalization in his case.”

Citizenship by incorporation of some territory into India

Section 7 provides for citizenship by incorporation of the territory into India. On any territory becoming a part of India, the Central Government may notify the persons who shall be citizens of India by reason of their connection with that territory.

Commonwealth Citizen

A citizen of a commonwealth country has the status of commonwealth citizens in India. Central Government is empowered to make laws on the basis of reciprocity in order to confer the rights of an Indian citizen of a commonwealth country by notifying in the official gazette.

Termination Of Citizenship

  1. Renunciation of Citizenship

Section 8 of the act provides that any individual who is acquiring citizenship of India, at the same time he is either citizen or national of another country may renounce his Indian citizenship by making the declaration in a prescribed form by registering the declaration to specified authority. The result of such an act of renunciation will lead to cancellation of Indian citizenship.

Further, if a person who is a parent of the minor child at the time renouncing his Indian citizenship, his minor child will also cease to be Indian citizen but has the option to resume it within a year of attaining majority.

  1. Cessation of Citizenship

According to Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, automatic termination of citizenship takes place when any person who is a citizen of India and acquires citizenship any other country.

  1. Deprivation of Citizenship

Under Section 10 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, the Central Government is empowered to deprive citizenship to an individual by issuing an order.

The individual who has acquired Indian citizenship by naturalisation, marriage, registration, domicile, and residence if satisfies certain conditions mentioned under Section 10, will be deprived of citizenship.

“Conditions are:

  1. the registration or certificate of naturalisation was ob­tained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact; or
  2. that citizen has shown himself by act or speech to be dis­loyal or disaffected towards the Constitution of India as by law established; or
  3. that citizen has, during any war in which India may be en­gaged unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in, or associated with, any business that was to his knowledge carried on in such manner as to assist an enemy in that war; or
  4. that citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalisation, been sentenced in any country to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years; or
  5. that citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for a continuous period of seven years.

This provision does not apply if he is a student abroad, or is in the service of a government in India, or of an international organisation of which India is a member, or has registered annually at an Indian consulate his intention to retain his citizenship of India.”


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