Citizenship Act, 1955

Citizenship Act, 1955


Every country has its Nationality Law. In India, this is governed by part II of the Constitution of India (from Article 5 to Article 11). Parliament of India wanted to makes more provisions related to this particular part that is why they bring up the Citizenship Act, 1955,(57 of 1955) on the 28th of December 1955. The Act is implemented with the motive to provide for acquisition and determination for citizens of India. Along with the Indian Constitution, the Citizenship Act, 1955, is the combination of fully comprehensive law relating to citizenship in India.

According to the Indian Nationality law, the system largely follows the jus sanguinis meaning citizenship provided by the right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli meaning citizenship provided by the right of birth within the territory. India has Single citizenship (this feature is adopted from Britain).

After the abolition of East India Company in India, British Raj is established by the enactment of the Government of India Act 1858 and formally brought the majority of Indians under the rule of Britishers. Indians under the Britishers rule, which will be ruled until the passing of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 were divided into two important categories :

  • Firstly, the resident of India and born in British India (pre-independence phase) came under the direct dominion of and bore faithfulness to the English Crown and held the status of English subject or British subject. British subject is defined under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 Which took effect from 1 January 1915, as those who born or naturalized in the British Sovereign’s dominions (including British India).
  •  Secondly, any resident of India born in a princely state (also known as an “Indian state” or a “Native state” owned by a king or Nawab) under the rule of British, or in any other state which may be protected by the Britishers or British Government, it was held that the status is that the person had a status of British protected person. This particular status is extended to the wives and legitimate offspring of the male member of those states. And the person who is protected by the Britishers were considered de jure (officially) foreigners but allowed to travel anywhere in the world on the passports issued by the Britishers.

Granting of Citizenship at the time when Constitution is enacted-

Our Constitution is made by the constituent assembly after very hard work by all its members in almost 3 years. And the framing of the constitution has been completed on 26th November 1949 and implemented on 26th January 1950. So, the Persons who domiciled in the Indian territory as on 26 November 1949 became automatically Indian citizens by virtue of the operation after taken into consideration the relevant provisions mentioned under the Indian Constitution when it comes into force. Along with that the Indian Constitution also made provision regarding citizenship for migrants from Pakistan which had been segregated from India after partition. So, basically, there were only three methods were given initially which are as follows-

  1. Born in the territory of India.
  2. Either of the parents born in the territory of India.
  3. A resident of India not less than 5 years

Granting of  Citizenship (Present status)

At present, there are 5 different provisions for granting citizenship in India.

  1. Citizenship by Birth: –

Defined under section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, meaning simply one who born in the territory of India (between 26 January 1950 – 1st July 1987) and between 1st July – Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003 (either of whose parents has Indian Citizenship at the time of birth) and after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003-

  • Both the parents have a citizen of India at the time of Birth; or
  • One of the parents has Indian Citizenship and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.

2. Citizenship by Descent: –

Defined under section 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, meaning if a person born outside India can become a citizen of India by the method of decent if-

  • Father is a citizen of India (between 26 January 1950 – 10 December 1992)
  • After the 10 December 1992, either of the parents was born in India

3. Citizenship by Registration: –

Defined under section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, meaning residing in India for at least 7 years are a minimum and basic requirement for becoming citizens of India by way of Registration.

4. Citizenship by Naturalization: –

Defined under section 6 of the act, meaning the Government of India may grant an oath of allegiance to the Indian Constitution if needed.

5. Citizenship by Incorporation of new Territory: –

If any new territory added in the country, their people automatically become the Indian citizen defined under section 7 of the said act.

Loss of Citizenship

There are three important provisions given by the law for losing citizenship by anyone which are discussed as follows-

  1. Renunciation: –  Meaning one who voluntarily gives up their citizenship and may be joined another country citizenship.
  2. Termination: – Meaning, operation of law when an Indian citizen becomes a member of any foreign country, or we can say that voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country.
  3. Deprivation: –  Meaning, compulsory termination of the citizenship of India by the government which was obtained by the process of registration or Naturalisation, if found later that that person acquires by way of any fraudulent technique.

NRI (Non- Resident Indian), PIO (Person with Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizens of India)

Defined in the Citizenship Act, meaning, firstly NRI means They are Indian Citizens with Indian passport but settled abroad for 6 months, or more comes under the ambit of NRI people.

Secondly, a person who is a member of a foreign country with Indian origin or their ancestors has come under the ambit of PIO (i.e., Person with Indian Origin).

Lastly, now they are a foreign citizen (who went abroad after 26 January 1950) means the Indians who migrated abroad after the commencement of the constitution comes under the ambit of OCI (i.e., Overseas Citizen of India). Their one benefit is becoming a member of OCI  they have a life long visa, but they are not allowed to vote nor contest the election, and along with that they are also not allowed to acquire any agricultural land in the territory, etc.

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by Ketan Srivastava

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