Constitution of India/Citizenship

Citizenship constitutes the indispensable foundational principle of democratic polity. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a citizen means a person owing allegiance to and entitled to the protection of a sovereign state[1] . Citizenship provides rights such as right to vote, and are also subjected to duties or obligation, such as paying taxes. Citizenship is covered in Part II of the constitution, within articles 5-11. It took an enormous amounts of drafts and took two years to be finalized.


Article 5-8 conferred citizenship on each person who met the criteria below at the commencement of the Constitution[2] :

  • Domiciled in India and born in India
  • domiciled not born in India but either of whose parents was born in India
  • domiciled, not born in India but ordinarily resident for more than five years
  • resident in India but migrated to Pakistan after 1 March 1947 and later returned to India on resettlement permit
  • resident in Pakistan but who migrated to India after 19 July 1948 or who came after that date but had resided for more than six months and got registered in prescribed manner
  • resident outside India but who or either of whose parents or grand parents were born in India

Thus, Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution included provisions for Citizenship-by domicile, of migrants from Pakistan and of Indians residing in foreign countries.


Domicile of a person is his permanent home. No person can be without a domicile and no person may have more than one operative domicile. National boundaries do not constitute a hindrance in one’s choice of domicile. This implies that a person may be national of one country, but his/her domicile may be another country. Domicile denotes the connection of a person with a territorial system of law.[2] [3]In fact, citizenship is denoted by domicile and not vice-versa. The latter is distinguishable from citizenship in as much as it is vitally connected with territory and not membership of the community which is at the root of the notion of citizenship[4].

There is only one citizenship, which is of the Union of India, there is no separate state Citizenship as in the United States of America.

Migrants from PakistanEdit

Article 6 provides citizenship rights to migrants from Pakistan before commencement of constitution. A person who migrated from Pakistan to India before 19 July 1948 shall be considered a citizen of India, provided either of the person's parents or any of his grandparents were born in India as stated in the Government of India act, 1935 and has been residing since the date of migration[5]. For person/s migrated after 19 July 1948, the person should be registered as a citizen of India by an officer from the Government of India, but for registration the subjected person has to be a resident of India for at least six months, at the date of his application[5][2].

Migrants to PakistanEdit

Article 7 makes special provisions regarding the citizenship rights of persons who migrated to Pakistan after March 1 1947 but returned to India subsequently. Such person/s become entitled to Citizenship of India, provided they fulfill the conditions stated for Migrants from Pakistan stated in Article 6. IS is necessary that in such cases too the visits of the migrants must not be for short/limited periods or be of a temporary nature or on purposes of business or otherwise[5]. It has to be noted that such cases are subjected to this article, as they were before the commencement of the constitution, cases pertaining to the period thereafter are to be governed by the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Persons of origin residing outside IndiaEdit

Article 8 provides that any person who or either of whose parents or grandparents was born in India as defined in Government of India Act 1935 and who is ordinarily residing in any country outside India shall be deemed to be a citizen of India if he has registered as an Indian Citizen by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in that country on an application made by him/her in the prescribed form to such diplomatic or consular representative, whether before or after the commencement of the Constitution.[5][2]

Voluntary Acquisition of Citizenship of foreign stateEdit

Article 9 states no person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of article 5, or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of article 6 or article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.

Continuance of the rights of citizenshipEdit

Article 10 reads, every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the foregoing provisions of article 5-10 shall continue to be a citizen of India, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by Parliament.[5] In the other words, the right of citizenship cannot be taken away from a person except through express parliamentary legislation.[2]

Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by lawEdit

Article 11 in the foregoing provisions of this Part shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship.[5][2]

Indian Citizenship Act 1955Edit

The Citizenship Act, 1955 that came into force with effect from 30th December 1955 deals with matters relating to the acquisition, determination and termination of Indian citizenship. It provides for the acquisition of Indian citizenship by birth, by descent, by registration and by naturalization[6] . The act has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1992, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

The Original Act provided [2][6]:

  • a person born in India after 26 January 1950 would, subject to certain exceptions be a citizen of India by Birth
  • anyone born outside India after 26 January 1950, subject to certain requirements, would be a citizen of India if his/her father was an Indian citizen at the time of his/her birth
  • under certain conditions, certain category of persons could acquire Indian citizenship by registration in prescribed manner
  • foreigners could acquire Indian citizenship on application for naturalization on certain conditions
  • if any territory became part of India, the Government of India[7] could by order specify the persons who would become citizens of India as a result thereof
  • citizenship could be lost by termination [8] renunciation or deprivation on certain grounds
  • a citizen of commonwealth country would have the status of commonwealth citizen of India. Government could make suitable provisions on the basis of reciprocity.


  1. "Citizen". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  2. a b c d e f g Kashyap, Subhash C. (1994). Our Constitution : an introduction to India's Constitution and Constitutional law (2nd ed. ed.). New Delhi: National Book Trust, India. pp. 85-93. ISBN 9788123707341. 
  3. [1], Law Commission of India report
  4. "Abdul Rahman vs State, AIR 1964 Pat.384". Indian Kanoon. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  5. a b c d e f "Law Ministry". Constitution of India Part II. 
  6. a b "Indian Citizenship Act 1955". Ministry of Home Affairs. Gov. Of India.‎. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  7. "Ministry of Information and Broadcasting". Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. AllGovernmentjobs. Retrieved 29 May 2019. 
  8. "Ministry of Home Affairs". Ministry of Home Affairs. fresherstech. Retrieved 16 July 2021.