The criteria for recognizing the citizens of India was laid down in the Indian constitution and it is also governed through various statutes or legislation. India got independence on 15th August 1947 from the colonial regime followed by the tragic incident of partition. As a result, two countries India and Pakistan appeared as two countries at global level. It was a challenge for the interim government of India to formulate the eligibility for people to be a citizen of India.
Besides, constitutional provisions of the Government of India bring the Citizenship Act, 1955 to accord the status of nationality to the people. Citizenship of India could be acquired by mainly 5 means such as Citizenship by birth, citizenship by descent, citizenship by naturalization , citizenship by registration and citizenship by incorporation of territory. Thus, it is quite curious to know how a person can become a citizen of India.
MEANING OF CITIZENSHIP
Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. The population of a state is divided into two categories: citizens and non-citizens. A citizen of a state enjoys all civil and political rights. A non-citizen, on the other hand, doesn’t enjoy these rights. India has adopted the concept of single citizenship from Britain
Under the Indian constitution, certain fundamental rights are available only to the citizens, namely: Right against discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15); right to equality of opportunity in matter of public employment (Article 16); freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession (Article 19); cultural and educational rights (Article 29 and 30); and right to vote and become members of the union and state legislatures.
Several offices can also be occupied exclusively by citizens: president (Article 58(1)(a), vice-president (Article 66(2)), judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124(3)) and high court (Article 217(2)), governor of a state (Article 157), attorney general (Article 76(1)) and advocate general (Article 165).
Equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India (Article 14 ) and protection of life or personal liberty (Article 21) are applicable to non-citizens as well.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS TO ACQUIRE CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA
Citizenship is defined in Part 2 of the Indian constitution. It is a part of the union list which simply means that only Parliament of India is authorized to make law regarding the eligibility to acquire citizenship to the people. Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on January 26, 1950, these articles were enforced on November 26, 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted. The provisions for citizenship are mentioned from Article 5 to 11 in our constitution.
Citizenship was granted to all persons who were born and raised in India. Even people who were domiciled in India but not born there, yet had one of their parents born there, were considered citizens. Anyone who had lived in the United States for more than five years was also eligible to seek citizenship.
It granted citizenship rights to certain Pakistani migrants to India. Because of Partition and migration prior to Independence, Article 6 stated that anyone who migrated to India prior to July 19, 1949, automatically became an Indian citizen if one of his parents or ancestors was born in India. Those who arrived in India after this date, on the other hand, had to register.
It Provided certain migrants to Pakistan with the right to citizenship. Those who migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 and later returned on resettlement permits were included in the citizenship . The law was more sympathetic to those who migrated from Pakistan and were referred to as refugees than to those who were stranded in Pakistan or went there but decided to return soon.
Provided certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India with the right to citizenship. Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who was born in India, or either of his or her parents or grandparents, could register as an Indian citizen with the Indian Diplomatic Mission.
Article 9 states that if a person voluntarily obtains the citizenship of a foreign state, he or she will no longer be a citizen of India.
Article 10 states that any person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the preceding provisions of this Part shall continue to be such a citizen, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament.
It gives Parliament the authority to make any provision regarding the acquisition and termination of citizenship, as well as all matters pertaining to it.
LEGISLATION RELATED TO ACQUIRE INDIAN CITIZENSHIP
The Citizenship Act, 1955
A comprehensive law dealing with citizens was passed by Parliament in 1955 in accordance with the powers vested in it by Article 11 of the Constitution. The Act provides five modes of acquiring the citizenship of India. These are:
- Citizenship by birth : Every person born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before June 30, 1987, shall be a citizen of India by birth. a person is a citizen of India by birth if he/she is born in India on or after July 1, 1987, but at the time of the birth, either of his parents was a citizen of India.
- Citizenship by descent : A person born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, shall be a citizen of India by descent if his father or mother is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
- Citizenship by registration : Any person who is not already an Indian citizen by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution or those of this Act can acquire citizenship by registration.
- Citizenship by naturalization : Any person who does not come under any of the categories mentioned above can acquire Indian citizenship by naturalization if his application for the same has been accepted by the Government of India and a certificate is granted to him to that effect.
- By incorporation of territory (by the Government of India : If any territory becomes part of India, the Government of India, by order, may specify the persons who shall be citizens of India by reason of their connection with that territory.
Citizenship can be considered as the basic structure of the Indian constitution. Citizenship is considered to establish a relationship between an individual and the corresponding nation-state. Possessing citizenship of a country will grant an individual all the prospective rights that a citizen of that country has. Rights such as the right to vote, protection by the state, the right to hold office etc., are acquired with citizenship. The citizenship of any country is granted on the basis of their frustrated terms and conditions in their constitution. The Indian Constitution grants the parliament the right to amend the citizenship policy according to the needs of the country. Thus, recent trends show us that after the advent of the newly adopted Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, the process to acquire Indian citizenship became uniform. It manifests the secular character of democratic India . Hence, the eligibility to be an Indian citizen is wide and it must be taken care of in a much sensible and logical manner.
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