Does India allow DUAL CITIZENSHIP?

“Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship”. – Patrick  Henry.

Introduction

A reporter in Kolkata questioned Abhijit Banerjee’s mother about his citizenship as the Nobel Prize was presented, noting that he had only recently become a citizen of the United States in 2017. His mother said, “He travels a lot.

In 2019, the Indian passport falls to position 86 from 77 in 2010. This ranking shows how many nations allow passport holders to enter with no visa or with a visa upon arrival. India is one of the world’s major sources of illegal immigration due to its high poverty rate (311 Indians have just been deported from Mexico).

Regardless of how big of a global “power” anyone believes India has become, developed nations will not grant the Indian passport easy access into their airports any time soon. For this reason, bright and affluent Indians who frequently travel and reside abroad prefer to obtain foreign citizenship. For the majority of Indians, obtaining a foreign citizenship is not “anti-national,” but rather a practical consideration. Anyone who has applied for a visa to the US or the UK will understand.

4.5 lakh Indians chose foreign citizenship between 2014 and 2017. The trend will only increase as more nations grant easy citizenship in return for money and investments

The Indian government is being downright stupid by not granting dual citizenship to such Indians. Dual citizenship is available in 85 nations worldwide. India must join this lengthy list in order to prevent embarrassing situations like an Indian winning the Nobel Prize despite not being an Indian citizen.

Citizenship of India under the constitutional provisions

  • The Constitution of India governs the Citizenship in India under Articles 5-11  (Part II) of the constitution.
  •  The Citizenship Act, 1955 is the legislation dealing with citizenship which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.
  • Nationality in India mostly follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) and not jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory).

Article 5: Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution

This article discusses about citizenship for people at the commencement of the Constitution, i.e. 26th January 1950. Under this, citizenship is conferred upon those persons who have their domicile in Indian Territory and –

  1. Who was born in Indian territory; or
  2. Whose either parent was born in Indian territory; or
  3. Who has ordinarily been a resident of India for not less than 5 years immediately preceding the commencement of the Constitution.

Article 6: Citizenship of certain persons who have migrated from Pakistan

Any person who has migrated from Pakistan shall be a citizen of India at the time of the commencement of the Constitution if –

  1. He or either of his parents or any of his grandparents was born in India as given in the Government of India Act of 1935; and
  2. (a) in case such a person has migrated before July 19th, 1948 and has been ordinarily resident in India since his migration, or
    • (b) in case such as a person has migrated after July 19th, 1948 and he has been registered as a citizen of India by an officer appointed in that behalf by the government of the Dominion of India on an application made by him thereof to such an officer before the commencement of the Constitution, provided that no person shall be so registered unless he has been resident in India for at least 6 months immediately preceding the date of his application.

Article 7: Citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan

This article deals with the rights of people who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947, but subsequently returned to India.

Article 8: Citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India

This article deals with the rights of people of Indian origin residing outside India for purposes of employment, marriage, and education.

Article 9: People voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign country will not be citizens of India.

Article 10: Any person who is considered a citizen of India under any of the provisions of this Part shall continue to be citizens and will also be subject to any law made by the Parliament.

Article 11: Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law

The Parliament has the right to make any provision concerning the acquisition and termination of citizenship and any other matter relating to citizenship.

Indian Citizens living abroad can be categorized as –

  1. NRI – Non- Resident Indian
  2. PIO – Persons of Indian Origin
  3. OCI – Overseas Citizen of India

NRI:-

An NRI is an Indian citizen who travels outside of India for work, conducts business or engages in a profession outside of India, or who declares an intention to travel overseas for an unforeseen period of time. Non-Resident Indians are citizens of India who travel overseas to work. He is an Indian national who spends a total of 183 days outside of India in a fiscal year. To become an NRI, no application is necessary. An individual’s annual tax filing, which is subject to change each year, serves as the official record of their status as an NRI. If you want to open an NRI bank account, let your bank know.

Opening special bank accounts with Indian banks and being able to borrow money against securities held in NRO (Non Resident Ordinary Rupee), NRE (Non Resident External Rupee), and FCNR (Financial Currency Non Resident bank) accounts without a ceiling are just a few of the advantages that an NRI can enjoy. This means that an NRI does not have to pay a maximum amount for the marginal securities that he invests in. They may use loans to purchase a home or other property, among other things. There are no limits on purchasing residential or commercial property in India without the RBI’s approval. In India, they can buy mutual fund units, debentures, and shares. If an NRI pays taxes in the country where he lives, his income is not taxed in India.

If an NRI is present in India at the time of voting, they are eligible to use the other benefits, which include the right to vote. The University Grants Commission (UGG) regulations state that they have a 15% reservation in Indian educational institutions.

An NRI, however, also has some restrictions. Although NRIs can obtain loans for housing or business purposes, they need authorization to withdraw funds they have invested in India. He is not allowed to buy a farm house or any property for farming. An NRI may vote, but he is not permitted to run for political office. Additionally, he is prohibited from working for the government of India. 

PIO:-

A person of Indian Origin was a 15 year long visa for Non- Indian citizens. As per the Gazette of India (Part-I, Section-I) published on 09.01.2015, all the existing Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card holder registered as such under new PIO Card scheme 2002, shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India Cardholder. It means that the PIO Card Scheme has been discontinued w.e.f. 9th January, 2015. Hence conscious and continuous efforts are made by the Indian state to urge all the PIO card holders to convert their PIO cards into OCI cards.

OCI

Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 defines OCI, as a person of Indian origin who is a foreign national and gets registered as Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder. In order to be an OCI, he should be an Indian citizen; either one of his parent or ancestor who is/ was an Indian citizen; person married to an Indian citizen or an existing OCI for at least two continuous years.

  1. Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution
  2. Citizenship by birth
  3. Citizenship by descent
  4. Citizenship by registration
  5. Citizenship by naturalization
  6. By incorporation of territory (by the Government of India)
    • People who were domiciled in India as on 26th November 1949 automatically became citizens of India by virtue of citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution.
    • Persons who were born in India on or after 26th January 1950 but before 1st July 1987 are Indian citizens.
    • A person born after 1st July 1987 is an Indian citizen if either of the parents was a citizen of India at the time of birth.
    • Persons born after 3rd December 2004 are Indian citizens if both parents are Indian citizens or if one parent is an Indian citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.
    • Citizenship by birth is not applicable for children of foreign diplomatic personnel and those of enemy aliens.

Termination of Indian Citizenship

Termination of citizenship is possible in three ways according to the Act:

  1. Renunciation: Any Indian citizen who is also a citizen of another nation and renounces his Indian citizenship through a declaration made in the way specified by law loses his Indian citizenship. Every minor kid of a guy who loses his Indian citizenship likewise loses his Indian citizenship. However, by declaring his decision to reclaim Indian citizenship within a year of reaching legal adulthood, such a child may become a citizen of India.
  2. Termination: Indian citizenship can be terminated if a citizen knowingly or voluntarily adopts the citizenship of any foreign country.
  3. Deprivation: In specific circumstances, the Indian government has the power to revoke a person’s citizenship. But not all citizens are covered by this. It only applies to people who have obtained citizenship through registration, naturalisation, or merely by virtue of Article 5 Clause (c) (which is citizenship at commencement for a domicile in India and who has ordinarily been a resident of India for not less than 5 years immediately preceding the commencement of the Constitution).

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are four ways in which Indian citizenship can be acquired: birth, descent, registration and naturalisation. The provisions are listed under sections 3, 4, 5(1) and 5(4) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Does India allow Dual Citizenship?

The Indian Constitution does not allow holding the Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously. However based on the high level committee of the Indian diaspora, the Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI). As per the Passports Act, 1967, it is mandatory for all Indian passport holders to surrender their passports to the nearest Indian mission or post immediately after acquiring the nationality of another country.

Hence Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, clearly prohibits Dual citizenship. As per the ministry of external affairs (MEA0 with the MHA, 1.63 lakh persons surrendered their Indian citizenship in 2021 against 85,236 in 2020 and 1.44 lakh in 2019 which is  a serious concern.  According to the reports, over 43% of the 3.92 lakh people who gave up Indian citizenship in the last 3 years (2019-2021) became citizens of the US itself and the rest from across a dozen other counties.

As India does not provide dual citizenship, as many as 362 Indians living in China also acquired Chinese citizenship.

Conclusion

A person with dual citizenship is able to work in both countries, and he or she can decide for themselves which country offers the better job prospects. Additionally, individuals who hold two citizenships can aid in the transfer of a nation’s culture and environment to another. People with dual citizenship are able to hold property and exercise their rights in both nations.

Jose Abraham

Adv. Jose Abraham is a Supreme Court Lawyer, CEO of JAA Associates, Global President of Pravasi Legal Cell, Chairman of Paideia Institute & Author of 5 books

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