• The Constitution of India provides for a single and uniform citizenship for whole of India.
  • Citizenship of India was granted to every person who domiciled in the territory of India at the commencement of the constitution and who was bom in the territory of India or—
    -  Either of whose parents was born in the territory of India or
    -  Who had been ordinarily residing in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding commencement of the Constitution.

Indian citizens have the following rights under the Constitution

  • Some of the Fundamental Rights enumerated in part III of the Constitution, e. g. Articles 15, 16,19, 29,30.
  • Only citizens are eligible for offices of the President, Vice-President, Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, Attorney-General, Governor of a State, Member of a legislature etc.
  • Only citizens have the right to vote.
  • Enemy aliens are not entitled to the benefit of the procedural provisions in clauses (l)-(2) of Article 22 relating to arrest and detention.

The Citizenship Act, 1955

The Citizenship Act 1955, provides for the acquisition of Indian citizenship in the following ways:

  • Generally, every person bom in India on or after January, 1950, shall be a citizen of India if either of his parents was a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
  • A person who was outside India on or after 26 January 1950, shall be a citizen of India by descent, if his father was a citizen of India at the time of that person's birth.
  • A person can apply for and get registered as a citizen of India by the competent authority if he satisfies the conditions laid down.
  • A person residing in India for more than 7 years and having adequate knowledge of a constitutionally recognized Indian language can seek citizenship by naturalisation, provided he is not a citizen of a country where Indian citizens are prevented from becoming citizens by naturalisation.
  • If any new territory becomes a part of India, the persons of the territory become citizens of India.

Citizenship of India may be lost by:

  • Renunciation of citizenship.
  • Termination of citizenship, if a citizen of India voluntarily aquires the citizenship of another country
  • Deprivation of citizenship by the Government of India

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 has been passed by the Parliament, with the Rajya Sabha approving it on December 11, 2019. 125 members supported the legislation while 105 opposed it. The house also negated the amendments by opposition parties while approving the Bill.
  • The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 9, 2019, 311 members had voted in its favour and 80 members opposed it.
  • The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants of six communities from Afghanistan Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. The communities are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians.
  • The Bill seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
  • These provisions of the Bill will not apply on the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution as well as the areas which are regulated through the Inner Line Permit regime, which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The inclusion of Manipur in Inner Line permit was also announced on December 10, 2019.
  • Only those migrants from the aforesaid countries will be eligible for Indian citizenship who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
  • The President accorded his assent to the bill on December 12, 2019. CAB now becomes CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).
  • Provision of giving citizenship of India on the basis of the citizenship of mother was introduced in 1992 (Indian Citizenship Amendment Act, 1992).

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