The Concept of Citizenship under Indian Constitution
Introduction to Citizenship
A plant needs water, light and air to exist in the world, similarly for subsists in the society, a person needs citizenship. Citizenship means membership in a nation. Every country in the world gives citizenship to the people who lived within the nation’s territory. The citizens of India can enjoy single citizenship. They are full members of India and owe allegiance to it. Indian citizens can enjoy all political and social rights noted in the Constitution of India. The fundamental rights in Part III of the Indian Constitution deal with citizen’s right. The citizens also have certain duties to perform for the nation mentioned in Article 51(A) of the Constitution of India.
Constitutional Provisions relating to citizenship
Citizenship is enshrined in Part II of the Constitution from Article 5-11. As per the Constitution of India, the four types of persons eligible for the Citizen of India. The four types are stated below:
- Citizens by domicile;
- Citizens by migration;
- Termination of Citizenship; and
- Citizens by registration.
Citizens by Domicile–
- Article 5 of the Constitution of India stated that If any individual was born within the territory of India, or the individual’s parents were born in India or the individual had his residence in India or he has been ordinarily inhabitant in India for 5 years immediately before the advent of the Constitution, became the citizen of India.
- Case Law – In the case of Neha Saini V. State of Uttarakhand(AIR 2010 Uttr 36), the Uttarakhand High Court held that a person shall be a citizen of India under Article 5(b) of the Constitution who has his domicile in the territory of India at the commencement of the Constitution and either of his parents were born in the territory of India.
Citizens by Migration
- Article 6 of the Constitution of India lays down that a person migrated to India from Pakistan eligible for citizenship if he or his parents or grandparents was born in India before 19th July 1948. A person could be registered as citizenship if he had been an inhabitant in India for 6 months coming before the date of his plea for registration.
- Case Law – in the case of Shanno Devi V. Mangal Sain (AIR 1961 SC 58), the Supreme Court stated that the migration predicted in Article 6 must have taken place before and not after the commencement of the Constitution.
Termination of Citizenship
According to Article 7 of the Constitution, a person migrated to Pakistan from India after 1st March 1947 but later returned to India for resettlement could become the Citizen of India. He could be enrolled if he had been resident in India for 6 months preceding the date of his application of enrollment.
Citizens by registration
Article 8 stated that a person who or his parents or his grandparents were born in undivided India but who is initially living outside India shall become a citizen of India if he has been registered as a citizen by the prudent or consular representative of India in the country of his residence, whether before or after the advent of the Indian Constitution.
No person can eligible for citizenship in India if he voluntarily amassed the citizenship of a foreign nation as per Article 9 of the Constitution of India. This provision stated that no citizen of India claims dual or plural citizenship.
The Citizenship Act, 1955:-
- Article 5-11 of the Constitution of India respecting citizenship are not broad but fragmentary and emaciated. Article 11 of the Indian Constitution authorizes Parliament to make a law to furnish for such matters and accordingly Parliament has legislated the Citizenship Act, 1955 to furnish for the accession and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the Indian Constitution. This Act has been modified 8 times.
- The Citizenship Act of 1955 furnished for Commonwealth Citizenship.
The Act provides for five ways for acquiring citizenship of India-
- Naturalisation; and
- Incorporation of some territory into India.
- ( ALSO READ: THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2019 )
- ( ALSO READ: Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019: Boon or Bane? )
Acquisition of Citizenship:-
According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, a person can eligible for citizenship in five ways-
- By Birth – Section 3 of this Act stated that a person born in India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 1st July 1987 is a citizen of India by bearing irrespective of the nationality of his parent.
- By Decent – Section 4 of the Citizenship Act 1955 provides for citizenship by descent. A person born in foreign on or after 26th January 1950 but before and after 10th December 1992 is considered as an Indian citizen if his father was an Indian citizen at the time of his birth. From 3rd December 2004, a person born in foreign countries shall not be an Indian citizen by descent, unless his birth is enrolled at an Indian consulate within one year of the birth date.
- By Registration – Section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 deal with citizenship by registration. The Central Government can point out any person as a citizen of India by an application if he belongs to the following categories
- a) A person of Indian origin resident of India for 7 years before a paper registration.
- b) A person of India origin resided in a foreign country.
- c) A person who is married to a citizen of India and ordinarily inmate in India for 7 years before making an application of enrollment.
- d)Minor children of one Indian citizen.
- e) A person whose parent was born in undivided India.
- By Naturalisation – Section 6 of the Citizenship Act 1955 deals with citizenship by naturalisation. The government can permit citizen by naturalisation to a person if some conditions are fulfilled, the conditions are –
- a) the person is a citizen of a country where citizens of India are not deterred from becoming citizens by naturalisation;
- b) the person rejects his citizenship of the other nation;
- c) the person has lived or been in government duty for 12 months instantly preceding the date of application;
- d) the person must be a good identity;
- e) the person has sufficient knowledge of a language recognised by the Indian Constitution;
- f) After getting citizenship by naturalisation the person aims at to live in India and can apply for government services and company in India.
- By Incorporation of Territory – Section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 provides citizenship by incorporation of territory. If any foreign territory evolves a part of India, the citizens of those territories become the citizens of India.
Loss of Citizenship:-
The Citizenship Act, 1955 laid down three ways of losing citizenship, they are –
- By Renunciation – Any Indian citizen of full age and ability can make a statement renouncing his citizenship. Upon the enrollment of that statement that person terminates to be an Indian citizen.
- By the Termination – If an Indian citizen deliberately or intentionally without any undue influence attains the foreign citizenship, the person’s citizenship is terminated.
- By Deprivation – If a citizen of India has achieved citizenship by fraud or disobey the Constitution, illegally trade and conveyed with the enemy country during the war, he has within five years after naturalisation, arrested for 2 years in any country and inmate out of India for seven years continuously, the person’s citizenship is a mandatory loss.
In India, only single citizenship available for the citizens of India. There is no separate state citizenship. All citizens of India regardless of their residence state entitled to relish all civil and political rights given to the citizens by the Constitution. All citizens are equal and treated without any discrimination. This single citizenship builds a strong harmony in the nation.
India, the land of 136 Crore people, enjoy citizenship right mentioned in the Constitution. This citizenship right gives citizen power and identity. It builds a patriotic feeling among the people. After all, this citizenship regarding caste, race, creed makes an identity of all citizens that is they belong from the same nation.
Author: Shreeparna Goswami,
2nd year B.A.LL.B of Shyambazar Law College