Indian citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration, and naturalization. The conditions and procedure for the 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 a 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.
- Without a valid passport or other prescribed travel documents, or:
- 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 an application under section 5(1)(a) (throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making an application and for SIX YEARS in the aggregate in the EIGHT YEARS preceding the twelve months). The 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 an application under section 5(1)(c). The application shall be made in Form-II.
- Minor children whose both parents are Indian citizens under section 5(1)(d). The 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). The application shall be made in Form III-A.
- Persons of full age who or either of the parents was an earlier citizen of Independent India and residing in India for ONE YEAR immediately before making an application under section 5(1)(f). The 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 an application under section 5(1)(g). The 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. The 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 Government/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 Governments/UT Administration. Any deficiency in the application would be brought to the notice of the applicant through the State Government/ UT Administration. The applicant, thereafter, has to make good the deficiency through the State Governments/UT Administration. No correspondence would be made directly with the applicant. However, a copy of the correspondence through the State Governments/UT Administration would be marked to the applicant. Each applicant whose case is found to be eligible after scrutiny of the application is informed about the acceptance of his application through the State Government. The applicant should not renounce his foreign citizenship until 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 Naturalization (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. The application shall be made in Form-XII.
Controversy On Rohingya Muslims Issue.
Who are Rohingya Muslims?
Rohingya are an ethnic group largely comprising Muslims, who predominantly lives in western Myanmar province of Rakhine. Though they have been living in the South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during colonial rule. So, it has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship. Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within Rakhine state.
The Rohingya Muslim minority in western Myanmar has been subject to state oppression and internal conflict since Myanmar’s independence from Britain. Many of Rohingyas in the state of Rakhine have been effectively stateless since a citizenship law of 1982 which designated them as foreign Bengali from neighboring Bangladesh. Even though the Myanmar government derecognized Rohingya Muslims as citizen way back in 1982, thousands of them started leaving the country only in 2012.
Rohingyas in India
Rohingyas entered into northeast India through various routes. They avoided staying near the Myanmar borders. Rohingyas spread over a large area across various states. They have a campus in Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Most of the Rohingya Muslims living in India are registered with the office of the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), better known as the UN Refugee Agency. International organizations have appealed to India not to deport the Rohingyas. But, the government has stated that its decision to deport Rohingyas concerns the state of security. Further, India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention of the UN or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. India does not have a refugee-specific law and the matter falls under the Foreigners Act of 1946, enacted by the Central Legislative Assembly. The Foreigners Act makes the undocumented physical presence of a foreigner in India a crime. It also empowers the government to detain a foreigner living illegally in the country until the person is deported.
India’s Stand On This Issue and Barriers
As we saw that as per the provisions of Foreigners Act, India has all rights to deport Rohingyas back to Myanmar but it is not the real condition as the International law does not allow our nation to do the same. The Rohingyas are registered with the office of the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and also they fit in the definition of refugees as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees: people forced to flee their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that more than 1,68,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar following a “security crackdown” in Rakhine. The core principle of the Refugee Convention is non-refoulment, which asserts that refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to life or freedom. India in spite of not being a signatory to the convention is bound to follow this principle as the principle of non-refoulement, now considered a rule of customary international law, is binding on all states whether they have signed the convention or not. India said the given sentence in a statement to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in November 2016.
“People seeking shelter in India have never been turned back. We have time and again demonstrated our abiding commitment to the principles of protection of all those who seek shelter.”
Since 1995, India has been a member of the UNHCR’s Executive committee, which reviews and approves the agency’s programs and budget, and addresses all issues relating to international protection. Any move towards refoulement of the Rohingya refugees would not only violate the Refugee Convention and customary international law, but it would also raise serious concerns about the legitimacy of India’s membership of the executive committee.
Meanwhile, refugees belonging to the “most persecuted minority” in the world are attempting to cling to survival and dignity in countries where they have sought shelter. Bangladesh has hosted Rohingya refugees for decades, but newer arrivals face significant challenges – they are housed in two overcrowded camps in unsanitary conditions and have limited employment options. The Rohingya have also undertaken dangerous sea voyages, hoping to find refuge in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. According to the UNHCR, between 2012 and 2015, an estimated 1,12,500 of them risked their lives on human traffickers’ boats in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. When these countries cracked down, the traffickers reportedly abandoned their human cargo. The boats were then intercepted and towed out to sea by the navies of the three countries in what the International Organization for Migration has termed a case of “maritime Ping-Pong”.
Controversy On The National Register Of Citizens In Assam
What is NRC?
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens residing in Assam. The register was first prepared after the 1951, census of India. The first pilot project of updating NRC was launched in 2010 which soon was halted after a protest by the All Assam Minority Student’s Union. And in 2014, the Apex Court ordered to complete the updating exercise process by January 31, 2016, through which the state missed the deadline.
Assam is the first Indian state where the NRC is being updated after 1951, with March 24, 1971, as the cutoff date, to include names of “genuine Indian citizens”. Many people in the country have labeled the people missing from Assam NRC as illegal migrants however the officials prefer to call them undocumented individuals. The list is indeed a draft and there are cases like names of the same family missing in NRC final draft as reported by PTI. If a person’s name does not appear in the draft, they have to apply in prescribed forms in their respective NSKs (NRC Sewa Kendras).
Supreme Court’s Stance On The NRC Matter
The Supreme Court on July 31 said there will be no coercive action by authorities against over 40 lakh people, whose names do not figure in Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), observing that it was merely a draft. A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman asked the Centre to submit the modalities and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) before it for approval within August 16. “This court would like to observe that what has been published is only a complete draft NRC, within naturally being a draft cannot be a basis for any coercive action by any authority,” said by the bench.
People who have missed their name in NRC draft can apply by presenting any of these document to prove that he is a citizen of India:
- 1951 NRC or
- Electoral roll(s) up to 24 March 1971 (midnight) or
- Land & tenancy records or
- Citizenship certificate or
- Permanent residential certificate or
- Refugee registration certificate or
- Passport or
- LIC or
- Any government issued license or
- Bank/ Post office accounts or
- Birth certificate or
- Board/University educational certificate or
- Court records/Processes.
Basically, government, as well as the Apex Court, don’t want any Indian citizen to be out of the NRC also they have an objective of restricting illegal migrants from entering in the country wrongfully and to enjoy the rights which originally belongs to the Indian citizens.
By reading the laws of India as well as the condition of Rohingya people also by reading about the problems faced by the people living in Assam due to the illegal migrants and NRC, we can say that the problem is not as simple as it looks to be. There is a writ filed under article 21 by the Rohingya people for their right of basic needs for survival as after the documentation method has been changed they are facing too many problems as their refugee cards are not taken as identity card after the change. At the other hand the people in Assam who are left out from the list they have a fear of being out of the country or to be detained in jail. The Indian government cannot just ask to leave the Rohingyas and even cannot allow staying in the country.