The provisions governing citizenship of India are enshrined in the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Constitution of India in Article 5 to 11, only talks about as to who was citizen till 26 January 1950.
The Indian Constitution provides the power to the parliament under Article 11 to make laws and regulations about citizenship. This is the reason parliament passed the Citizenship Act in 1955.
Citizenship Act, 1955, has been amended from time to time, like in 1986, 1987, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2015, 2016, and most recently in 2019.
Amendments only make slight changes in the act. But the main provisions must be understood in order to understand the amendments.
Provisions of Citizenship Act, 1955
Citizens have privileges as well as liabilities over non-citizens in a particular territory. There are methods prescribed in the Citizenship Act, 1955, for becoming a citizen of India. They are as follows.
Methods of Acquiring Citizenship of India
The citizenship of India can be acquired in 5 ways. They are:-
1. By Birth
2. By Acquisition or Incorporation of Territory
3. By Descent
4. By Registration
5. By Naturalization
1. If a person is born in the territory of India, he shall be a citizen of India.
2. A person born on or after 26 January 1950 but before 1 July 1987, irrespective of the citizenship of parents. It is called jus soli (right of soil).
3. A person born on or after 1 July 1987 but before 3 December 2004. Either of the parents of the person born should be a citizen of India at the time of birth. It is called jus sanguins (right of blood or descent).
Citizenship is granted to a person on the basis of the Indian nationality of any of the parents, immaterial of the fact that at which place the child took birth.
4. A person born on or after 3 December 2004. Both the parents of the child born should be a citizen of India at the time of birth.
5. A person shall not acquire citizenship of India if any of his parents is envoy (foreign diplomat) or enemy alien or an illegal immigrant.
Note: Illegal immigrant is defined in the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2016, as any person who enters the territory of India without a valid passport, fake passport, or stays beyond Visa permit.
By Acquisition or Incorporation of Territory
1. If any territory or state becomes part of India, then the central government shall declare it as part of the Union of India by issuing official Gazette.
2. Many territories such as Goa, Sikkim, Puducherry, Daman and Diu became part of India, and their population became citizens of India.
1. If a person is born outside India on or after 26 January 1950, but before 10 December 1992 will be considered as a citizen of India. But subject to the fact that his father must be a citizen of India at the time of birth.
2. If a person born on or after 10 December 1992 but before 3 December 2004, either of the parent (mother or father) must be having citizenship of India.
After the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2003, the government passed an order stating that a child born shall not be Indian merely because of his descent. The government mandated compulsory registration within one year of birth. Its time can be extended by the government as per requirement.
1. If a person is of Indian origin, who was ordinarily a resident of India for seven years before making an application for registration.
2. If a person is married to a person of Indian citizenship and is ordinarily residing in India for seven years before making the application for registration.
3. If a person is minor and parents are a citizen of India.
4. A person who or his parents were earlier citizens of India after independence and is residing in India for a year before making the application for registration.
5. If a person is registered as an overseas citizen of India (a foreigner of Indian origin who is given a status to work and live in the territory of India) and is residing for one year before making the application for registration.
1. Citizenship is acquired by making an application to the central government.
2. For granting citizenship to a person, the criteria of the third schedule of this act must be satisfied.
3. The person to whom citizenship certificate is to be granted must be of good character, must have knowledge of any language given in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, must not be an illegal migrant, and must have renounced the previous citizenship.
4. The person must have resided (lived) in India for 11 years in the previous 14 years and one year immediately before the time of making the application.
Note: After the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, the number of years from eleven has been decreased to five years and one year immediately before making the application. This makes a total of 6 years.
5. If the person has made a significant contribution or rendered service to the fields like science, arts, literature, human progress, the government may waive off the conditions given in the third schedule of this act.
Ways of Losing Indian Citizenship
You can lose Indian citizenship in three ways. They are:-
1. By Renunciation: A person may voluntarily renounce the citizenship of India.
2. By Termination: If a person acquires citizenship of another country, then the citizenship of India gets terminated.
3. By Deprivation: In case a person has acquired citizenship fraudulently, or is disloyal to the constitution, or helps enemy in war or within five years of the process of naturalization has been imprisoned for two years, or ordinarily resides outside for seven years.
Editors note: The above article gives detail and throws light on the provisions of acquiring and losing citizenship in the Citizenship Act, 1955. The upcoming articles would be dealing with constitutional provisions related to citizenship and the latest amendments in provisions of citizenship, mainly of the year 2019.