Citizenship in India - Indian Polity and Governance Notes | Study Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters - UPSC

UPSC: Citizenship in India - Indian Polity and Governance Notes | Study Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters - UPSC

The document Citizenship in India - Indian Polity and Governance Notes | Study Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters.
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC



There are two classes of people in any country- citizens and aliens. Citizens make up the political community of the country and enjoy all rights and entitlements while aliens (owing political allegiance to another country or government) are denied some of them. For example, citizens can vote and contest to hold representative offices like a member of parliament while aliens cannot. Citizens are eligible for all administrative posts while aliens are not. Aliens are of two types: citizens of friendly countries are friendly aliens while those of enemy countries are enemy aliens- the latter being denied some of the rights that the former may enjoy.

Aliens may have come to another country for a variety of reasons: Aliens may find asylum in a country to which they have fled for political reasons. Asylum is the legal protection granted to people in any country who are afraid to return to their home country Expelling an alien is called deportation. Tourists, students, employees and so on are the other types of aliens.

Domicile means to stay in a country with the intention of making it his or her permanent home. Proof of such an intention is employment or property etc.

Resident is one who resides in the country for certain number of days- 182 days in the previous fiscal year as the Indian law defines.. If not, he or she is considered a non­resident. A non-resident Indian is a citizen of india but has not resided in India for the required number of days. A Person of Indian Origin(PIO) on the other hand is one who acquired citizenship of another country. He is no more a citizen of India unlike an NRI.

The Constitution of India provides for a single citizenship for the entire country. There is no provision for the US model of being a citizen of the co9untry as weH as the citizen of the state like Bihar, Karnataka, for example.

Since 2003, a type of dual citizenship is allowed by Indian laws with some restrictions. PIOs can become eligible for certain citizenship rights on par with N.RIs in social, economic, commercial areas even though PIOs are not citizens of India any more. Such PIOs who obtain Overseas Citizenship card are entitled to these benefits. It is loosely refered to as dual citizenship. Such dual citizens are called overseas Citizens of is facilitated to satisfy the urge of the diaspora to participate in Indian national affairs more actively.

The provisions relating to citizenship are contained in Articles 5 to 11 in Part II of the Constitution of India.

The Citizenship Act, 1955 deals with matters relating to the acquisition, determination and termination of Indian citizenship. It provides for the acquisition of Indian citizenship by birth, by descent, by registration and by naturalisation. The Citizenship Rules, 1956 prescribe the procedure, forms of applications, fee etc'

Modes of acquiring Indian citizenship

Citizenship of India can be acquired by the following ways

  • By Birth
  • By descent
  • By registration
  • By naturalization
  • By acquisition of territory

By birth

Those born in India on or after 26th January 1950 but before D* July 1987 are citizens of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of their parents. Those born in India on or after Ist July 1987, are considered citizens of India only if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.The latter provision is necessary and was inserted in 1980’s so that illegal immigrants do not have the benefit.

By Descent

Those born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 10lh December 1992 are eligible for citizenship of India by descent, if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth. Those born outside India after 10th December 1992, are eligible to be citizens of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.The latter provision was inserted into citizenship rules to give men and women equality.

By Registration

Citizenship of India by registration can be acquired by -

  • persons of Indian origin(PIO) who are ordinarily resident in India for five years
  • persons who are or have been married to a citizen of India and are ordinarily resident in India for five years;
  • minor children whose both parents are Indian citizens


By Naturalisation

Citizenship of India by naturalisation can be acquired by a foreigner who is ordinarily resident in India for ten years (continuously for the twelve months preceding the date of application and for nine years in the aggregate in the twelve years preceding the twelve months). The condition can be waived if in the opinion of the Central Government, the applicant is a person who has rendered distinguished services to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress generally.


Citizenship by Incorporation of Territory

If any territory becomes a part of India, its people will be citizens of India.


Loss of Citizenship

It is based on the following grounds

  • Voluntary
  • Involuntary



Acquisition of citizenship of another country

Any citizen of India voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, he cease to be a citizen of India. If any question arises as to whether, when or- how any person has acquired the citizenship of another country, it shall be determined by Central Government


Involuntry Deprivation

The Central government under the Indian citizenship Act, 1955 deprives any citizen of Indian Citizenship grounds like the registration or certificate of naturalization was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact; or that citizen has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal towards the Constitution of India; or that citizen has, during the war in which India may be engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy assisted any enemy in that war etc.


Determination of Citizenship

If a question arises as to whether, when and how, a citizen of India acquired the Citizenship of another country , it will be determined only by the Central Government.

“Dual Citizenship” Law in India

In 2004, by an amendment to the Citizenship Act, the facility of Overseas Citizenship of India (OC1) was made available to PlOs in 16 specified countries. Later ,it was extended to PIOs of any country (except Pakistan & Bangladesh) that allows dual citizenship, by Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 .

Persons who have dual nationality as citizens of both India and the foreign country are subject to all Indian laws.

Dual citizens do not have voting rights in India. Neither can they be elected to public office,nor are they eligible for defence jobs.

Following are the benefits to dual citizens in detail

  • does not require visa for travel to India.
  • no need of going through registration formalities for staying in the country, which a foreigner is required to undergo.
  • is granted parity with non-resident Indians in respect of facilities available to the latter in the economic,financial and educational field
  • is allowed to own real estate and purchase property within India with-few or no restrictions.There are some restrictions on owning agricultural property
  • allowed to live in India indefinitely, unlike the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, which permitted a single stay for a period of six months.
  • The children of dual citizens can avail of the facilities for obtaining admission to educational institutions, including medical colleges, engineering colleges, lITs, IIMs, etc. under the general category
  • can also avail facilities under the various housing schemes of the LIC, state government and other government agencies.

Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs

The ‘Ministry of Non-Resident Indians’ Affairs’ was created in 2004 and was renamed the ‘Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs’ (MOIA) .

Few important terms

Person of Indian origin is one who or either of whose parents or grand parents was an Indian but is a foreign citizen now, NRI on the other hand is a citizen of India who is abroad to a point that he/she did not reside in India for the mandatory 182 days in the previous year. PI Os can not vote in Indian elections as they are not citizens. NRIs, however can.(Read ahead)


One who has left a native country, especially for political reasons.

Expatriate( expat)

One who has left his country voluntarily

Stateless Persons

A stateless person is one with no citizenship or nationality. It may be because the state that gave their previous nationality has ceased to exist and there is no successor state, or their nationality has been repudiated by their own state, making them effective refugees. For example, the tea plantation workers from Tamil Nadu in central Sri lanka who were taken there as indentured labour by the British in 19th century.

Stateless Tamils in Sri Lanka

They have no nationality, no right to vote, to work officially, to open a bank account or to obtain state land,no possibility to apply for documents like a passport or birth certificate.

Most of the stateless people in Sri Lanka are descendents of people who had been brought from India by British colonisers between f820 and 1840 to work on coffee and tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Known as "up-country Tamils" or "hill Tamils", the majority still lives on tea estates in southern and central Sri Lanka. A minority was displaced in the north and east by inter-ethnic fighting in 1983.

Over the years, several Indo-Ceyion agreements have granted some of these people •either Indian or Sri Lankan citizenship, the latest being a Sri la'nkan Parliamentary Act to grant them citizenship in 2004.


Refugee is defined as a person who is outside his/her country and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a genuine fear that she/he will be persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Some refugees leave the their country due to civil war- for example, Syrian citizens are going to Jordan and other neighbouring countries to escape the civil war. So did the Tamils from norther and eastern Sri Lanka in the last few decades.They had escaped to India. In 2012, Rohingya muslims of Myanmar are also in news for attempting to flee Myanmar due to negative discrimination and persecution.

Those who seek refugee status in another country are sometimes known as asylum seekers and the practice of accepting such refugees is that of offering political asylum. The most common asylum claims to industrialized countries are based upon political and religious grounds.

Green card

A green card in the USA gives official immigration status (Lawful Permanent Residency)

H lb visa

The H-IB visa program allows American companies and universities to employ foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, and other professionals in the United States for upto 6 years.

LI visa

There are two kinds of L visas:

  • L-1 A-for employees in an executive or managerial position
  • andL-l B-for employees in a specialized knowledge capacity


Surrogacy and citizenship

Twins born to German parents through a surrogate Indian mother remained stateless for some time recently in India. Their parents are German nationals, but the woman to whom the babies were born is Indian surrogate mother from Gujarat. The boys were refused German passports because Germany does not recognize surrogacy as a legitimate means of parenthood. Therefore, they could not go to Germany. India was unable to grant citizenship to the twins born through surrogacy. The acquisition of citizenship by birth under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 requires either one of the parents of the child to be Indian Citizens at the time of birth of the child. In the case on hand the children did not have an Indian National parent. The contention of the German couple was that the children born to an Indian surrogate mother using the gamete from an Indian anonymous egg donor should be considered Indians ; and that the surrogate mother was required to be regarded as the legal mother of the'children. This contention had got the sympathetic hearing of the High Court of Gujarat, which agreed that the surrogate mother should be regarded as the legal mother of the child. The Gujarat High also directed the Union of India to grant citizenship and passport for the children enabling them to travel abroad. Union of India appealed against the High Court order in the Supreme Court. Germany relented, issuing travel visas, and the family went home.



The Arakan State inMyanmar, bordering Bangladesh, is inhabited by two ethnic sister com-munities, the Rakhine Buddhist and the Rohingya Muslim. The Rakhine Buddhists are the majority group while the Rohingya Muslims are minority group. The Rohingyas numbering approximately 2 million are enduring continued persecution and the ethnic cleansing policy of military regime in Myanmar. Also about 1.5 million Rohingyas have been living in exile in many countries all over the world.

Once the refugeesTiad been repatriated, this law was specifically designed effectively to deny Rohingyas the right to a nationality. The 1982 Citizenship law has had the effect of rendering the vast majority of Rohingyas ineligible to be Myanmar citizens.

Rohingyas are not issued any new national identity cards which are is-sued to other citizens. There are restriction of movement. Rohingyas in Arakan State must routinely apply for permission to leave their village, even if it is just to go another nearby village. These restrictions prevent people from seeking work in other villages, trading, fishing or even attending a funeral of a relative or visiting a doctor.

The document Citizenship in India - Indian Polity and Governance Notes | Study Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters.
All you need of UPSC at this link: UPSC

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