• India has two kinds of people– citizens and aliens.
  1. Citizens: Enjoy all civil and political rights.
  2. Aliens (friendly aliens or enemy aliens): Do not enjoy all the civil and political rights.
  • Citizen enjoys certain rights and privileges provided by constitution and aliens don’t are:
  • Article 15: Right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 16: Right to equality of opportunity in the matter of public employment
  • Article 19: Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence and profession.
  • Articles 29 and 30: Cultural and educational rights.
  • Right to vote in elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly.
  • Right to contest for the membership of the Parliament and the state legislature.
  • Eligibility to hold certain public offices like President etc. (In India both a citizen by birth and naturalized citizen are eligible for President while in USA, only a citizen by birth is eligible)


  • The Constitution deals with the citizenship from Articles 5 to 11 under Part II. However, it contains neither any permanent nor any elaborate provisions in this regard. It only identifies the persons who became citizens of India at its commencement (i.e., on January 26, 1950).
  • It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for such matters and any other matter relating to citizenship.
  1. Article 5: Citizenship at the time of commencement of constitution
  2. Article 6: Citizenship of those whom migrated from Pakistan to India.
  3. Article 7: Citizenship of those who migrated to Pakistan and then came back to India.
  4. Article 8: Citizenship of person of Indian Origin.
  5. Article 9: Termination of citizenship (automatic termination of citizenship upon voluntary acceptance of citizenship of any other country)
  6. Article 10: Continuance of the rights of citizenship (unless parliament has made law).
  7. Article 11: Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law. (Parliament shall have the power to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship).


CITIZENSHIP ACT, 1955: The Citizenship Act (1955) provides for acquisition and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution.






By Birth:


A person born in India:

  •    Between January 26, 1950- July 1, 1987 irrespective of the nationality of his parents.
  •    After July 1, 1987 – either of his parents is a citizen.
  •    December 3, 2004 onwards – only if both or one of whose parents is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth.
  •    The children of foreign diplomats posted in India and enemy aliens cannot acquire Indian citizenship by birth.


By Descent


A person born outside India:

  •     Between January 26, 1950- December 10, 1992 & Father was a citizen of India.
  •     After December 10, 1992 – either of his parents is a citizen.
  •     December 3, 2004 onwards – unless 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 period.

By Registration


The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he fulfills the certain conditions and persons must take an oath of allegiance before they are registered as citizens of India.
By Naturalization The Central Government may, on an application, grant a certificate of naturalization to any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he possesses the certain qualifications.
By Incorporation of Territory


If any foreign territory becomes a part of India, the Government of India specifies the persons who among the people of the territory shall be the citizens of India. Such persons become the citizens of India from the notified date.






By Renunciation


  •          Any citizen of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship. Upon the registration of that declaration, that person ceases to be a citizen of India.
  •         Every minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship. However, when such a child attains the age of eighteen, he may resume Indian citizenship.

By Termination

  •          When an Indian citizen voluntarily (consciously, knowingly and without duress, undue influence or compulsion) acquires the citizenship of another country, his Indian citizenship automatically terminates.


By Deprivation


It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government, if:

1.       Obtained the citizenship by fraud;

2.       Shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India;

3.       Unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war;

4.       Within five years after registration or naturalization, been imprisoned in any country for two years; and

5.       Ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.


  • Though the Indian Constitution is federal and envisages a dual polity (Centre and states), it provides for only a single citizenship, that is, the Indian citizenship owe allegiance only to the Union.
  • There is no separate state citizenship unlike USA and Switzerland where they have system of double citizenship.
  • In India, all citizens irrespective of the state in which they are born or reside enjoy the same political and civil rights of citizenship all over the country and no discrimination is made between them. However, this general rule of absence of discrimination is subject to some exceptions.
  • The Constitution of India, like that of Canada, has introduced the system of single citizenship and provided uniform rights (except in few cases) for the people of India to promote the feeling of fraternity and unity among them and to build an integrated Indian nation.


  • Definition of illegal migrants: The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. It defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner: (i) who enters India without a valid passport or travel documents, or (ii) stays beyond the permitted time.
  • Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 will not be treated as illegal migrants and for these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to five years.
  • These provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution
  • Further, it will not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland AMiN
  • Cancellation of registration of OCIs: The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds. These include: (i) if the OCI has registered through fraud, or (ii) if, within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, or (iii) if it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India, or (iv) if the OCI has violated the provisions of the Act or of any other law as notified by the central government. The orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the OCI cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.