Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a member of a country. A person may have multiple citizenships and a person who does not have citizenship of any state is said to be stateless.
A person can be a citizen for several reasons. Usually citizenship of the place of birth is automatic; in other cases an application may be required. Each country has its own policies and regulations which change the criteria of who is issued citizenship.
The provisions of citizenship are covered by Articles 5 to 11 and are embodied in Part II of the Constitution. Article 5 refers to citizenship not in any general sense but to citizenship on the date of the commencement of the Constitution. It was not the object of this Article to lay down a permanent law of citizenship for the country. That business was left to the Parliament of India. Accordingly, at the commencement of the Constitution, every person who had his domicile in the territory of India and (a) who was born in India, or (b) either of whose parents was born in India, or (c) who had been ordinarily resident in India for not less than five years immediately preceding the commencement of the Constitution, was to be considered a citizen of India. Persons of Indian origin who had been residing outside India at the commencement of the Constitution were given the free choice of becoming Indian citizens under the above provisions if they so desired. The only condition that they had to fulfill in his connection was to get themselves registered as Indian citizens by the diplomatic or consular representatives of India in the country where they were residing (Art. 8). Articles 6 and 7 deal with two categories of persons, namely, those who were residents in India but had migrated to Pakistan and those who were residents in Pakistan but had migrated to India. Those who migrated from Pakistan to India were divided into two categories : (a) those who came before July 19, 1948 and (b) those who came after that date. According to article 6 those who came before July 19, would automatically become citizens on the commencement of the Constitution, and those who came after July 19 would become such provided they had been registered in the form and manner prescribed for this purpose by the Government of India. These two articles thus provided for all cases of mass migration from Pakistan to India without making any distinction between one community and another, although the partition of the country itself was based upon such as a distinction. Article 7 provides for those who had migrated to Pakistan but who had returned to India from Pakistan with the intention of permanently residing in India. Such a provision had to be made because the Government of India, in dealing with persons who left India for Pakistan and who subsequently returned from Pakistan to India, allowed them to come and settle permanently under what is called a “permit system”. This permit system was introduced from July 19, 1948. Under this system, every person who desired to return. It is clear from the nature of these provisions that their object was not to place before the Constituent Assembly anything like a code of nationality laws. In fact, there is hardly any constitution in which an attempt has been made to embody a detailed nationality law. But since India’s Constitution is of a republican character and provision is made throughout the Constitution for election to various offices under the State by and from among the citizens, it was thought essential to have some provisions which precisely determined who was an Indian citizen at the commencement of the Constitution. Otherwise, there could have arisen difficulties in connection with the holding of particular offices and even with the starting of representative institutions in the country under the republican Constitution. This is why Parliament has been given plenary power to deal with the question of nationality and enact any law in this connection that it deems suited to the conditions of the country. Such Parliamentary power embraces not only the question of acquisition of citizenship but also its termination as well as any other matter relating to citizenship (Art. 11) Also under Article 9 of the Constitution, and person who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of any foreign State, even if qualified for Indian citizenship under any provision of the Constitution, may not be a citizen of India. Losing of Citizenship The Act envisages three situations under which a citizen of India may lose his Indian Nationality. These are :
- By Renunciation : If any citizen of India who is also a national of another country renounces his Indian citizenship through a declaration in the prescribed manner, he ceases to be an Indian citizen of registration of such declaration. When a male per son ceases to be a citizen of India, every minor child of his also ceases to be a citizen of India. However, such a child may within one year after attaining full age. Become an Indian citizens by making a declaration of his intention to resume Indian .citizen
- By Termination : Any person who acquired Indian citizenship by naturalisation, registration or otherwise,, of he or she voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country at any time between January 26, 1950 , the date of commencement of the Constitution, and December 30, 1955, the date of commencement of this Act, shall have ceased to be a citizen of India from the date of such acquisition.
- By Deprivation : The Central Government is empowered to deprive a citizen of his citizenship by issuing an order under 10 of the Act. But this power of the Government may not be used in case of every citizen; it applies only to those who acquired Indian citizenship by naturalisation or by virtue only of clause (c) of Article 5 of the Constitution or by registration. The possible grounds of such deprivation are : The obtaining of a citizenship certificate by means of fraud, false representation, concealment of any material fact; disloyalty of disaffection towards the Constitution shown by act or speech; assisting an enemy with whom India is at war; sentence to imprisonment in any country’ for a term of not less than two years within the first five years after the acquisition of Indian citizenship and continuous residence outside Indian for a period of seven years without expressing in a prescribed manner his intention to retain his Indian citizenship. The Act also provides for reasonable safeguards in order to see that a proper procedure is followed in every case of deprivation of 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 provisions of the Act may be broadly divided into three parts, acquisition of citizenship, termination of citizenship and supplemental provisions. The Act provides five modes of acquiring the citizenship of India. These are :