5. Citizenship

indian polity study materials 05


  • The State has two elements. The territory (which is a material resource) and the human population living in the territory. These persons comprise the State. The population may consist of three types of persons.
  1. Citizens – e. Persons who are full members of the State and who owe allegiance to it. These citizens enjoy full civil and political rights.
  2. Aliens – Persons who are citizens of some other They are not entitled to all constitutional and other rights. For example, in India they have right to life and personal liberty but not the freedoms enumerated in Art. 19. Aliens may be friendly aliens or enemy aliens. Enemy aliens are those whose country is at war with India. Such aliens suffer special disabilities.
  3. Stateless persons – This category is very small and may not exist in some They are persons who are not citizens of any country. They have only those rights which aliens have.

Rights of a citizen:

  •  Under the Constitution, the citizens have the following rights which are not available to aliens:
  1. Those fundamental rights which are conferred on citizens alone g. Arts. 15, 16, 19 and 29.
  2. Article 18 imposes a restriction on citizens (not to accept any little from a foreign State).
  3. Citizens alone are eligible to hold certain offices . These offices are those of President, Vice-President, Judge of the Supreme Court, Judge of a High Court, Governor, Attorney-General and Advocate
  4. Citizens only are eligible to vote for the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assembly
  5. Only citizens are qualified for being a member of Parliament or of the State legislature.

Rights not Available to Aliens: 

  1. Rights not to be discriminated against on grounds of race, caste, religion, sex or place of birth (Art 15)
  2. Right to equality of opportunity in public employment (Art 16)
  3. Right to six fundamental freedoms under Art 19
  4. Right of suffrage
  5. Cultural and educational rights conferred by Arts 29 & 30
  6. Right to hold certain offices–President, Vice President, Governor of States, Judges of Supreme Court or High Courts, Attorney General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General, etc
  7. Right to contest election and get elected to either House at the Centre or State level

Acquisition of citizenship:

Citizenship Act, 1955

  • The law relating to citizenship is now contained in the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Article 11 of the Constitution has conferred power on the Parliament to legislate on all matters relating to citizenship.
  • The Citizenship Act prescribes the following ways for acquisition of citizenship.
  1. By birth: Every person born in India on or after 26 th January 1950 is a citizen of India by birth
  2. By descent: A person born outside India on or after 26 th January 1950 shall be a citizen by descent if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of the person’s birth.
  1. By registration: A person not covered by (a) and (b) above may acquire citizenship by registration if he satisfies certain Such persons fall in various categories

    e.g. persons married to citizens of India, persons of Indian origin.

  1. By naturalization: A foreigner becomes a citizen of India when his application for naturalization is accepted by the Government of
  2. By incorporation of territory: If a new territory becomes part of India, the government shall specify the persons of that territory who shall be citizens of India. When Pondicherry merged in India an order was issued under s. 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Only one citizenship:

  •  There is single citizenship for the whole of India. There is no State citizenship. A person residing in any one of the Indian States has the same rights and privileges as his compatriot residing in another State.
  • There is in India only one citizenship and one domicile. 4 In U.S.A. and Switzerland
  • there is dual citizenship viz. National citizenship and State citizenship.

Termination of citizenship:

Citizenship is lost by,-

  1. Renunciation of citizenship
  2. Termination of citizenship
  3. Deprivation of citizenship

Renunciation – Any citizen of India who is a major and has legal capacity (sound mind etc.) may renounce his citizenship by making a declaration. This declaration can be made only by a person who is a citizen or national of any country other than India.

Termination – Any citizen of India who has voluntarily acquired citizenship by naturalization or registration etc. and who voluntary acquires the citizenship of another country ceases to be a citizen of India.

Deprivation – A person who is a citizen of India by naturalization or by registration etc. may be deprived of citizenship by an order of the Central Government. Some of the grounds for such deprivation are,

  1. Registration was obtained by fraud or concealment of any material
  2. The citizen has shown that he is disloyal or disaffected towards the Constitution of India.
  3. The citizen has during any war in which India may be engaged unlawfully traded with or assisted the enemy.

Overseas Citizenship of India:

  •  There now exists a provision for a new form of Indian nationality, the holders of which are to be known as Overseas Citizens of India.
  • The Constitution of India does not permit dual citizenship or dual nationality, except for minors where the second nationality was involuntarily acquired.
  • Therefore, Overseas Citizenship of India is not a full citizenship of India and thus, does not amount to dual citizenship or dual nationality.
  • At the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2003, the then Prime Minister of India had announced grant of dual citizenship in PIOs.
  • In 2004, by an amendment to the Citizenship Act, the facility of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) was made available to PIO in 16 specified countries.
  • In the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005 held in Mumbai, the Prime Minister had announced the government’s intention to PIOs of any country (except Pakistan & Bangladesh) that allows dual citizenship.
  • This has since been given legal backing by the Indian Parliament, which approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August, 2005.
  • The amended Act enables the Central Government to register, as an overseas citizen of India (OCI) any person of full age and capacity :
  1. Who is a citizen of another country now, but was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution of India on 26th January
  2. Who is citizen of another country, but was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of commencement of the
  3. Who is a citizen of another country, but belonged to a territory that became a part of India after the 15th of August
  4. Who is child or a grand child of such a citizen; or a minor child of a person mentioned in (1) to (4) above. No person who is or has been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh shall be eligible to be registered as an OCI
  • A person registered as OCI is eligible to apply for grant of Indian citizenship under section 5 (1) (g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 if he/she is registered as OCI for five years and has been residing in India for one year out of the five years before making the application.
  • The introduction of Overseas Indian Citizenship does not entitle people who have acquired, or are planning to acquire, foreign nationality, to retain their Indian passports.
  • The law continues to require that Indian citizens who take foreign nationality must immediately surrender their Indian passports.
  • Those who are eligible can then apply for registration as Overseas Indian Citizens.

Advantages of OCI compared to PIO cardholders: 

  1. OCI is entitled to life-long visa free travel to India whereas for PIO cardholder it is for 15
  2. PIO cardholder is required to register with local police authority for stay exceeding 180 days in India on any single visit whereas OCI is exempted from registration with police authority for any length of stay in india.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015:

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 amends the Citizenship Act, 1955:

  • The Bill introduces a new provision which allows the central government to register a person as an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder even if s/he does not satisfy any of the listed qualifications. This is permissible if special circumstances exist.

Merger of Overseas Citizen of India and Persons of Indian Origin schemes:

  • Currently, the central government provides for two schemes for Indian origin persons, and their families, the Persons of Indian Origin card and the Overseas Citizen of India card. Persons of Indian Origin enjoy fewer benefits than Overseas Citizens of India. For example, they are entitled to visa free entry into India for 15 years, while Overseas Citizens of India are provided a life-long visa. The Bill provides that the central government may notify that Persons of Indian Origin cardholders shall be considered to be Overseas Citizen of India cardholders from a specified date.
  • The Bill have come into force on January 6, 2015.


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