Citizenship

Mains Marks Booster     29th July 2023        
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Introduction: 
  • Citizenship encompasses the concept of being a full and equal member of a political community, with a shared political identity and entitlement to specific rights. It establishes an individual's affiliation with a particular country, like India, Japan, or Germany, representing the relationship between an individual and the state.

Important Points for Indian Citizenship:

  • Constitutional Measures: Articles 5-11 in Part II of Indian Constitution regulates the citizenship in India.
  • Legislation: The Citizenship Act of 1955 is the legal framework governing the various aspects of citizenship.
  • Acquisition of citizenship: Through various means such as birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and incorporation of territory. 
  • Termination and deprivation of citizenship: By renunciation, termination and deprivation.
  • Adoption: It came into being on 26th November, 1949.
  • Jurisdiction: Citizenship is a subject that falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Parliament.
  • Single Citizenship for whole of India.

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA, 2019):

  • Objective: To grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • Cutoff date for citizenship: Who had come to India till December 31, 2014
  • Not applicable: To areas under the Sixth Schedule and the Inner Line Permit. 
  • Relaxation of residency by naturalization: From 11 years to 5 years for applicants belonging to the specified religions and countries. 
  • The act also allows for the cancellation of registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) under certain grounds by the central government.
  • Criticism: Critics argue that this act runs afoul of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, a fundamental right that guarantees equal treatment for all individuals.
  • In January 2023: Union Home Ministry seeks 6-month extension for framing CAA rules, marking the 7th extension requested. Implementation of CAA dependent on rule formulation.
  • Expanded Authority under the Citizenship Act, 1955:
    • District magistrates of 31 districts and home secretaries of nine states now have the power to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It is not under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). 

Trend of Indian Citizenship Renunciations:

    • Over 16 Lakh Indians renounced Indian citizenship since 2011. 
  • 2,25,620 individuals renounced their citizenship in 2022, the highest recorded in recent years. 
  • The largest numbers of Indians who relinquished Indian citizenship in 2021 went to the United States, followed by Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
  • Current context: Indian IT professionals on H1-B visas face deportation risk due to layoffs, prompting interest in EB-5 visa program for alternative pathway to US residency. Failure to find a new employer within 60 days can result in deportation as the employer sponsors the H1-B visa.

National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India

  • The NRC is an official record of legal Indian citizens based on the Citizenship Act, 1955. 
  • It serves as a repository of demographic information for individuals who qualify as citizens of India. 
  • The NRC was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and has remained unchanged until recently.
  • NRC updation in Assam: On the SC order, Process started in 2015, with 1.9 million excluded from final NRC.

National Population Register (NPR):

Overview:

  • It is a register that contains details of individuals residing in villages, rural areas, towns, wards, and demarcated areas. 
  • It was first prepared in 2010 and updated in 2015 under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and related rules. 

Objective:

  • To create a comprehensive database of usual residents in the country. 
  • Provides important demographic information and aids in government planning and policy formulation.

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI):

Status and Benefits:

  • It grants immigration status to foreign citizens of Indian origin. 
  • It allows them to live and work in India indefinitely, providing various rights and privileges similar to Indian citizens. 

Introduction of OCI Card: 

  • It was launched in 2005 in response to the demand for dual citizenship by Indians residing overseas. 
  • It was introduced under The Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2005 to address the needs of overseas Indians.  

NRI vs OCI: 

  • While NRIs are Indian citizens living abroad temporarily, OCI cardholders are foreign citizens with Indian origin granted special immigration status.

Conditions:

  • A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01. 1950 or was a citizen of India on or at any time after 26.01. 1950 or 
  • belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08. 1947 and his/her children and grandchildren, is eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).
  • Recently, India extends OCI eligibility for Surinamese Indian immigrants to sixth generation, recognizing their significance in the bilateral relationship.

Constitution Bench to Assess Constitutional Validity of Section 6A of Citizenship Act:

  • Point of Question: To examine potential "constitutional infirmity" of Section 6A.
  • Assam Accord and Section 6A:
  • Section 6A was inserted into the Citizenship Act as part of the Assam Accord. 
  • Section 6A aims to address the issue of illegal immigrants, primarily from Bangladesh.

Myanmar Refugees case:

In 2021, High Court of Manipur allows 7 Myanmar nationals to travel to Delhi for UNHCR protection. Court cites India's commitment to human rights and non-refoulement under Article 21.

Conclusion:

  • Citizenship in India is of great importance as it provides individuals with legal recognition, rights, and privileges, while also shaping their sense of identity and belonging to the nation.
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