Until its Independence in 1947, India was a part of the British Empire. However, between 1st January 1949 and 25th January 1950, Indians were British subjects, by virtue of Section 18(3) of Indian Independence Act, unless they had already acquired citizenship of United Kingdom or any other country.
On commencement of the Indian Constitution on 26th January 1950, the Indians were no longer British subjects. Moreover, they enjoyed the status of Commonwealth citizen (also known as a British subject with Commonwealth citizenship, a status which does not entitle the person to use a British passport), by virtue of their Indian citizenship and India's membership of the Commonwealth. However, a number of Indians did not acquire Indian citizenship on commencement of the Indian Constitution and retained British subject without citizenship status (which entitles a person to a British passport) unless they had acquired citizenship of another Commonwealth country.
On 20th December 1961, India acquired the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli after the military action which were under the territories of Portugal. The French territory of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and the Free town of Chandranagore, were acquired under treaty of cession with France. Sikkim was also merged with India and became a constituent state with effect from 16th May 1975. Some of the enclaves in the eastern part of India, were also acquired under border agreements with Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively.
In order to expressly provide the citizenship for people in territories as mentioned above, the central government issued the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Citizenship) Order, 1962 and Citizenship (Pondicherry) Order 1962, in exercise of its powers under section 7 of the Citizenship act and for Sikkim, the President extended the Citizenship act, and the relevant rules under Article 371-F(n) of Indian Constitution. In case of acquired enclaves, that did not necessitate legislative action, as that was only a border demarcation agreement.
Granting of citizenship:
Acquisition of Indian Citizenship (IC): Indian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration and naturalization. The conditions and procedure for acquisition of Indian citizenship as per the provision of the Citizenship Act, 1955 are given below:
(1) By Birth (Section 3): A person born in India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 1st July, 1987 is citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his parents. A person born in India on or after 1st July,1987 but before 3rd December, 2004 is considered citizen of India by birth if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth. A person born in India on or after 3rd December, 2004 is considered citizen of India by birth if both the parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of his birth.
An illegal migrant as defined in section 2(1)(b) of the Act is a foreigner who entered India.
(i) without a valid passport or other prescribed travel documents : or
(ii) with a valid passport or other prescribed travel documents but remains in India beyond the permitted period of time.
(2) By Descent (Section 4):
A person born outside India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent, if his father was a citizen of India by birth at the time of his birth. In case the father was a citizen of India by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of India, unless his birth is registered at an Indian Consulate within one year from the date of birth or with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period.
A person born outside India on or after 10th December 1992 but before 3rd December, 2004, is considered as a citizen of India if either of his parents was a citizen of India by birth at the time of his birth. In case either of the parents was a citizen of India by descent, that person shall not be a citizen of India, unless his birth is registered at an Indian Consulate within one year from the date of birth or with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period.
A person born outside India on or after 3rd December, 2004 shall not be a citizen of India, unless the parents declare that the minor does not hold passport of another country and his birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth or with the permission of the Central Government, after the expiry of the said period.
Application for registration of the birth of a minor child to an Indian consulate under Section 4(1) shall be made in Form-I and shall be accompanied by an undertaking in writing from the parents of such minor child that he does not hold the passport of another country.
(3) By Registration (Section 5(1)):
Indian Citizenship by registration can be acquired (not illegal migrant) by:
Persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in India for SEVEN YEARS before making application under section 5(1)(a) (throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making application and for SIX YEARS in the aggregate in the EIGHT YEARS preceding the twelve months). Application shall be made in Form I.
Persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India under section 5(1)(b).
Persons who are married to a citizen of India and who are ordinarily resident in India for SEVEN YEARS (as mentioned at (a) above) before making application under section 5(1)(c). Application shall be made in Form-II.
Minor children whose both parents are Indian citizens under section 5(1)(d). Application shall be made by his parents in Form-III.
Persons of full age whose both parents are registered as citizens of India under section 5(1)(a) or section 6(1) can acquire Indian citizenship under section 5(1)(e). Application shall be made in Form III-A.
Persons of full age who or either of the parents were earlier citizen of Independent India and residing in India for ONE YEAR immediately before making application under section 5(1)(f). Application shall be made in Form III- B.
Persons of full age and capacity who has been registered as an OVERSEAS CITIZEN OF INDIA (OCI) for five years and residing in India for ONE YEAR before making application under section 5(1)(g). Application shall be made in Form III-C.
Clarification: A person shall be deemed to be a Person of Indian origin if he, or either of his parents, was born in undivided India or in such other territory which became part of India after the 15th day of August, 1947.
(4) By Registration (Section 5(4)):
Any minor child can be registered as a citizen of India under Section 5(4), if the Central Government is satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying such registration. Each case would be considered on merits. Application shall be made in Form-IV.
Application in relevant Form for grant of Indian citizenship by registration under section 5 has to be submitted to the Collector/District Magistrate of the area where the applicant is resident. The application has to be accompanied by all the documents and fees payments as mentioned in the relevant Forms. It is very important that applications are complete in all respects otherwise valuable time of the applicant would be lost in making good the deficiencies after they were detected. The application along with a report on the eligibility and suitability of the applicant is to be sent by the Collector/District Magistrate to the concerned State Government/UT Administration within 60 days. Thereafter, the State Govt/UT Administration shall forward the application to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India within 30 days.
Each application is examined in MHA in terms of the eligibility criteria under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship Rules, 1956. If the applicant is not fulfilling the eligibility criteria, communication to this extent would be sent through the State Govts./UT Administration. Any deficiency in the application would be brought to the notice of the applicant through the State Govt./ UT Administration. The applicant, thereafter, has to make good the deficiency through the State Govts./UT Administration. No correspondence would be made directly with the applicant. However, a copy of the correspondence through the State Govts./UT Administration would be marked to the applicant. Each applicant whose case is found to be eligible after scrutiny of application is informed about the acceptance of his application through the State Government. The applicant should not renounce his foreign citizenship till the citizenship application is accepted and informed of the decision. The applicant is then required to furnish through the State Government, a certificate of the renunciation of his foreign citizenship issued by the mission of the concerned country, proof of fee payment as per SCHEDULE IV of the Act, and personal particulars in Form-V. Thereafter, a certificate of Indian citizenship is issued to the applicant through the State Government.
(5) By Naturalisation (Section 6):
Citizenship of India by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner (not illegal migrant) who is ordinarily resident in India for TWELVE YEARS (throughout the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of application and for ELEVEN YEARS in the aggregate in the FOURTEEN YEARS preceding the twelve months) and other qualifications as specified in Third Schedule to the Act. Application shall be made in Form- XII.
In response to persistent demands for "dual citizenship" particularly from the Diaspora in North America and other developed countries and keeping in view the Government's deep commitment towards fulfilling the aspirations and expectations of Overseas Indians, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. The Scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention 2006 at Hyderabad. The Scheme provides for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) of all Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who were citizens of India on 26th January, 1950 or there after or were eligible to become citizens of India on 26th January, 1950 except who is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify.
OCI is not to be misconstrued as 'dual citizenship'. OCI does not confer political rights. The registered Overseas Citizens of India shall not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Detailed instructions and procedures on the OCI Scheme are available on the MHA's website: www.mha.nic.in .
The OCI documents consist of OCI Registration Booklet and a Universal visa sticker. It is mandatory for registered OCIs to carry their passports which carry the Universal visa sticker for entry into / exit from India.
A registered Overseas Citizen of India is granted multiple entry, multi purpose, lifelong visa for visiting India, he/she is exempted from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India, and is entitled to general 'parity with Non-Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties'. Specific benefits/parity is notified by the Ministry from time to time.
The Ministry has issued notifications granting registered OCIs further benefits as under:
Parity with Non-Resident Indians in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children ; Parity with resident Indian nationals in matters of tariffs in domestic air fares ; Parity with domestic Indian visitors in respect of entry fee for visiting national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India ; Parity with non-resident Indians in respect of: Entry fees for visiting the national monuments, historical sites and museums in India; Practicing the following professions in India, in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts, namely: Doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists; Advocates; Architects; and Chartered Accountants; and Entitlement to appear for the All India Pre-Medical Test or such other tests to make them eligible for admission in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts.
An on-line OCI miscellaneous service is now available for re-issuance /issuance of duplicate OCI documents, in case of issuance of new passport, change of personal particulars, viz, nationality, name, change of address/occupation, etc. and loss/damage of OCI registration certificate/visa.
As on 31st May, 2013 13.25 lakh OCI registration booklets and visa stickers have been issued.
Registration of overseas citizens of India
The Central Government may, subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, on an application made in this behalf, register as an overseas citizen of India.
(a) any person of full age and capacity
(i) who is citizen of another country, but was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after, the commencement of the Constitution; or
(ii) who is citizen of another country, but was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of the commencement of the Constitution;or
(iii) who is citizen of another country, but belonged to a territory that become part of India after the 15th day of August, 1947; or
(iv) who is a child or a grand-child of such a citizen; or
(b) a person, who is a minor child of a person mentioned in clause (a):
Provided that no person, who is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an overseas citizen of India.
Conferment of rights on overseas citizens of India
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, an overseas citizen of India shall be entitled to such rights other than the rights specified under sub-section(2) as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
(2) An overseas citizen of India shall not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India-
(a) under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment;
(b) under article 58 of the Constitution for election as President;
(c) under article 66 of the Constitution for election of Vice-President;
(d) under article 124 of the Constitution for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court;
(e) under article 217 of the Constitution for appointment as a Judge of the High Court; (f) under section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950(43 of 1950) in regard to registration as a voter;
(g) under sections 3 and 4 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States, as the case may be;
(h) under section 5, 5A and 6 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the Legislative Assembly or a Legislative Council, as the case may be, of a State;
(i) for appointment to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State except for appointment in such services and posts as the Central Government may by special order in that behalf specify.
(3) Every notification issued under sub-section (1) shall be laid before each House of Parliament.
Renunciation of overseas citizenship
(1) If any overseas citizen of India of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration renouncing his overseas citizenship of India, the declaration shall be registered by the Central Government, and; upon such registration, that person shall cease to be an overseas citizen of India.
(2) Where a person ceases to be an overseas citizen of India under subsection(1), every minor child of that person registered as an overseas citizen of India, shall there upon cease to be an overseas citizen of India.
Cancellation of registration as overseas citizen of India
The Central Government may, by order, cancel the registration granted under sub-section(1) of section 7A if it is satisfied that-
(a) the registration as an overseas citizen of India was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact; or
(b) the overseas citizen of India has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India as by law established; or
(c) the overseas citizen of India has, during any war in which India may be engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in, or associated with, any business or commercial activity that was to his knowledge carried on in such manner as to assist an enemy in that war; or
(d) the overseas citizen of India has, within five years after registration under subsection(1) of section 7A has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years; or
(e) it is necessary so to do in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public.