- India has two kinds of people—citizens and aliens.
- Citizens are full members of the Indian State and owe allegiance to it.
- They enjoy all civil and political rights.
- Aliens, on the other hand, are the citizens of some other state and hence, do not enjoy all the civil and political rights.
- They are of two categories—friendly aliens or enemy aliens.
- Friendly aliens are the subjects of those countries that have cordial relations with India.
- Enemy aliens, on the other hand, are the subjects of that country that is at war with India.
- They enjoy lesser rights than the friendly aliens, eg, they do not enjoy protection against arrest and detention (Article 22).
- The Constitution confers the following rights and privileges on the citizens of India (and denies the same to aliens):
- Right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15).
- Right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment (Article 16).
- Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession (Article 19).
- Cultural and educational rights (Articles 29 and 30).
- Right to vote in elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly.
- Right to contest for the membership of the Parliament and the state legislature.
- Eligibility to hold certain public offices, that is, President of India, Vice- President of India, judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts, governor of states, attorney general of India and advocate general of states.
- Along with the above rights, the citizens also owe certain duties towards the Indian State, as for example, paying taxes, respecting the national flag and national anthem, defending the country and so on.
- In India both a citizen by birth as well as a naturalised citizen are eligible for the office of President while in USA, only a citizen by birth and NOT a naturalised citizen is eligible for the office of President.
- The Constitution deals with the citizenship from Articles 5 to 11 under Part II.
- It only identifies the persons who became citizens of India at its commencement (i.e., on January 26, 1950).
- It does NOT deal with the problem of acquisition or loss of citizenship subsequent to its commencement.
- It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for such matters and any other matter relating to citizenship.
- Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955, which has been amended in 1957, 1960, 1985, 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005 and 2015.
- According to the Constitution, the following four categories of persons became the citizens of India at its commencement i.e., on 26 January, 1950:
1.. A person who had his domicile in India and also fulfilled any one of the three conditions, viz.,
- if he was born in India; OR
- if either of his parents was born in India; OR
- if he has been ordinarily resident in India for five years immediately before the commencement of the Constitution, became a citizen of India (Article 5).
2.. A person who migrated to India from Pakistan became an Indian citizen if he OR either of his parents OR any of his grandparents was born in undivided India and also fulfilled any one of the two conditions viz.,
- in case he migrated to India before July 19, 1948, he had been ordinarily resident in India since the date of his migration; OR
- in case he migrated to India on or after July 19, 1948, he had been registered as a citizen of India.
- But, a person could be so registered only if he had been resident in India for six months preceding the date of his application for registration (Article 6).
3.. A person who migrated to Pakistan from India after March 1, 1947, but later returned to India for resettlement could become an Indian citizen. For this, he had to be resident in India for six months preceding the date of his application for registration (Article 7).
4.. A person who, or any of whose parents or grandparents, was born in undivided India but who is ordinarily residing outside India shall become an Indian citizen if he has been registered as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country of his residence, whether before or after the commencement of the Constitution. Thus, this provision covers the overseas Indians who may want to acquire Indian citizenship (Article 8).
To sum up, these provisions deal with the citizenship of
(a) persons domiciled in India;
(b) persons migrated from Pakistan;
(c) persons migrated to Pakistan but later returned; and
(d) persons of Indian origin residing outside India.
The other constitutional provisions with respect to the citizenship are as follows:
- No person shall be a citizen of India or be deemed to be a citizen of India, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign state (Article 9).
- Every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India shall continue to be such citizen, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament (Article 10).
- Parliament shall have the power to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship (Article 11).