CITIZEN OF THE SKY: Identity crises from being born in the air
Last week the Turkish Airlines flight crew delivered a baby girl during a flight, cruising at about 42,000 feet between the West African nations of Guinea and Burkina Faso.Several incidences come across where sky babies are born and they are gifted with the special offer of lifetime free flights or an offer of million miles with that airlines or free flights until the child reaches the age of 18 or 21. However, the actual question that confounds is “If you’re born on an airplane, is your nationality up in the air?”
There is an ancient doctrine, enshrined in English common law, that says Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, which means, “Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs all the way up to heaven and down to hell.” Nevertheless, this old rule has been modified over the years to mean that each country owns the airspace necessary for the “use and enjoyment” of their plot of land. According to the United Nations, a baby born on a flight is a citizen of the country where the airline is registered. However, it is for each country to decide who its citizens are. In 1990, a girl was born on a British Airways flight, an unusual location at 36000 feet in the air. Her passport reads as “Holder born on an aeroplane 10 miles south of Mayfield, Sussex”.
For the purpose of granting of citizenship, countries follow either of the two latin principles: Jus Soli which means Right of the Soil and Jus Sanguinis which means Right of Blood. Generally, countries follow Jus Sanguinis, which states that baby can obtain citizenship of a particular country via the parents that is either of them being the citizen of that country. However, the United States and some of its neighbouring nations observe Jus Soli, which automatically grants citizenship to the baby born on the soil of that country. Strangely, although the country adheres to jus soli, the United States will not recognize a baby born on an aircraft unless the aircraft is flying within the country’s airspace. Thus, the registration of aircraft has nothing to do with the U.S. citizenship.
In the case of Indian Citizenship, in accordance with Citizenship Act, 1955:
Citizenship by birth.-
Every person born in India,-
(a) on or after the 26th day of January,1950, but before the 1st day of July, 1987;
(b) on or after the 1st day of July, 1987, but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth;
(c) on or after the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, where- both of his parents are citizens of India; or one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth, shall be a citizen of India by birth.
Citizenship by descent-
A person born outside India-
- on or after 26 January 1950 but before 10 December 1992 is the citizen of India by descent if his father was a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
- on or after 10 December 1992 is considered the citizen of India if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his 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.
Therefore, there is no specific law in India to provide citizenship to the child if born mid-air within the territory of India unless either of his/her parents is the citizen of India.
By- Shringar Bhattarai