Indian Citizenship: Law and Dual Nationality

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India is a varied country with people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. As a result, its citizenship regulations can be difficult, and understanding the various components of Indian citizenship and dual nationality is essential.

Citizens of India by birth and citizens of India by naturalization are recognized under Indian law. People born in India are automatically regarded as citizens, however, people who were not born in India but applied for citizenship through naturalization can become Indian nationals. The naturalization process requires applicants to meet specific criteria and accomplish certain procedures, such as producing certain documents.

Aside from Indian citizenship, there is also the concept of dual nationality, which occurs when a person possesses both Indian and the nationality of another country at the same time. Dual nationals have the freedom to visit either country, but they must also follow the laws of both countries.

What Is Indian Citizenship?

The Indian Constitution defines citizenship as the “status of being a citizen of India.” To be an Indian citizen, a person must have been born in India or have parents who were born in India, according to the Constitution. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 oversees the acquisition, renunciation, and termination of Indian citizenship.

The Indian Constitution does not accept dual citizenship. In other words, a person can only have one citizenship at a time. In this aspect, an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), frequently referred to as ‘dual citizenship,’ is not dual citizenship as defined by law. OCI makes it easy for people of Indian heritage who are nationals of other nations to travel and enter the country.

Though the legislation does not allow for dual citizenship, it does allow Indian nationals to obtain a second passport from a chosen country by completing the requisite processes given out by the chosen country’s government. In general, such passports are issued on an individual basis based on personal demands or convenience.

Explaining the Indian Nationality Act 1955

Citizens of Commonwealth countries are entitled to get Indian citizenship through registration under the Indian Nationality Act of 1955. A person born in India between 1950 and 1987 is called a naturalized citizen of India. The Act also allows for the acquisition and revocation of Indian citizenship for persons who choose dual citizenship after 1995.

The Act also allows for specific types of people, such as:

  • Those who were citizens of India immediately before 1950.
  • Those who were residents in India on or before 31 December 1949 and their children born outside India.
  • Persons registered as Indian citizens under section 5(1)(c) (also known as ‘registration’).
  • Children born outside India between 1950 and 1987 to parents who were citizens at the time of their birth (also known as ‘descent’).
  • Adopted children; women who are married to an Indian citizen; or persons personally rendered special service to the Government of India.

Understanding the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

The Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 revised the Citizenship Act of 1955, making it simpler for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to obtain Indian citizenship. The Act recognizes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan as eligible for Indian citizenship, but it excludes Muslims. This law expedites the process of obtaining Indian citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from these three nations.

This new regulation has created quite a stir in India and other countries. Many individuals believe that this rule is discriminatory against Muslims because it excludes them from the criteria for eligibility for Indian citizenship, even though many Muslims endure persecution in these three nations. Supporters of the Act, on the other hand, argue that it is only intended to provide relief and protection to minorities who face discrimination in their home nations.

Dual Nationality and Indian Citizenship

The Indian Constitution forbids dual citizenship, which means that an Indian citizen cannot possess any other foreign citizenship. However, in recent years, the Government of India has chosen to offer Indians living outside of the nation Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).

Because of its restricted provisions, OCI should not be interpreted as “dual citizenship.” An OCI, for example, cannot run for or vote in Indian elections, nor can they occupy a public office in the nation. Furthermore, their entitlement to remain permanently in India is limited and can only be used for specific purposes such as visiting family members or conducting business.

Latest Law on Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

In response to the demand for dual nationality from many non-resident Indians (NRIs), the Indian government established the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme. The OCI system offers NRIs and people of Indian heritage permanent resident status and permits them to live and work in India without a visa.

However, foreign nationals cannot apply for OCI while on a Tourist Visa, Missionary Visa, or Mountaineering Visa. This is to ensure that persons entering India on tourist visas do not linger longer than necessary. People who have overstayed their visas in India are not eligible for an OCI card.

What Documents Do You Need for Indian Citizenship?

You will need to furnish the relevant documents to gain Indian citizenship. They are as follows:

  1. A copy of a valid passport with at least 6 months validity.
  2. Proof of current citizenship—a valid driver’s license, birth certificate, or other document proving residency in a foreign nation can suffice.
  3. If appropriate, the original Surrender Certificate for an Indian passport. This document is issued by the Indian embassy or consulate in the nation where the applicant presently resides and allows them to relinquish their existing Indian passport and renounce their Indian citizenship before naturalization as an Indian citizen.

These documents must be presented to the Indian Embassy or consulate in your place of residence, and if granted, you will obtain your new passport with the imprint of Indian Citizenship within.

Rights of an Indian Citizen

Certain rights as an Indian citizen are guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. These rights ensure that all Indian citizens are treated fairly and equitably under the law. Here are some of an Indian citizen’s major rights:

  1. Right to Equality: This includes the right to be treated equally before the law, without discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, or place of birth
  2. Right to Freedom: This includes the right to free speech and expression, the right to peacefully gather without arms, the right to freely migrate throughout the country, and the right to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade, or business.
  3. Right against Exploitation: This includes a ban on forced labor and child labor.
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion: This includes the freedom to practice any religion as well as the freedom to spread it.
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights: This encompasses the right to protect minorities’ culture and language, as well as the right to an education.
  6. Right to Life and Liberty: This encompasses the right to life, the right to personal liberty, and the right to a fair trial.
  7. Right to Constitutional Remedies: This includes the right to seek redress if any of the preceding rights are violated.

Every Indian citizen must be aware of his or her rights and exercise them properly while also respecting the rights of others.

The complicated Citizenship Act of India gives people many possibilities for identity and legal protection. Understanding the complexities of the law is crucial for any person who wants to profit from advantages like those associated with dual citizenship. Dual nationality and citizenship rights are governed by treaties, bilateral agreements, and the Indian Constitution. The Indian Citizenship Act contains benefits for everyone, regardless of whether they want to become citizens, benefit from dual citizenship, or just comprehend the subtleties of the legislation.