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Methods Of Acquiring Citizenship And Losing Of Citizenship Under Indian Citizenship Act

Citizenship refers to the relationship between a state and its individual where an individual owes commitment and is authorized to safety and protection. Responsibilities upheld with the acquisition of citizenship include payment of taxes, military service to the state, respecting the national flag, and patriotism. The recognition of a citizen holds with itself distinction in political, civil and social rights that are not delivered to non citizens.

The Constitution of India confers various rights and privileges to the citizens of India with the help of Article 5 to 11. The Constitution of India has bestowed distinct provisions concerning the Acquisition of Citizenship of India. Citizenship Act, 1955 deals with regulations that provide termination and acquisition of citizenship of India.

Definition of Citizenship: Citizenship refers to the legal status and membership of an individual in a particular country or nation and entitling them to certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities. It is a formal recognition by a country's government that an individual is a member of the state and is entitled to protection and benefits under its law and constitution.

Rights of Citizens: Citizenship typically entitles rights such as the right to vote, the right to work and reside in the country, access to social service and protection under the country's legal system. At the same time Citizen also carries responsibilities such as obeying the country's law, paying taxes and participating in civil duties.

Methods of Acquiring citizenship in India:

There are five primary methods of acquiring citizenship in India, including birth, registration, descent , naturalization, and incorporation of territory , each within its own set of provisions and procedures
  1. Citizenship by Birth (Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955) One of the primary methods of acquiring citizenship in India is through birth. The Citizenship Act, 1955 grants citizenship to individuals who are born in India subject to certain conditions. The provisions for acquiring citizenship by birth are as follows:
    • Birth in India: Any person born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987, is considered an Indian citizen by birth irrespective of the nationality of their parents.
    • Birth in India to Indian parents: A person born in India on or after July 1, 1987 is considered an Indian citizen by birth if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
    • Birth in India to an unknown parent: If a person is found abandoned in India and their parentage is not known, they are considered Indian citizens by birth.
  2. Citizenship by Registration (Section 5) A person can be registered or enlisted as a citizen of India if they are a common citizen of India for seven years before the application. A person whose either parent is a citizen of India, and an individual enrolled as an OCI can also register as a citizen of India under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  3. Citizenship by Descent (Section 4) A person born on or after January 26, 1950 but before December 10, 1992, and outside India is accepted as a citizen if their father or mother was a citizen of India at the time of their birth. A person born outside India after December 10, 1992, is considered a citizen of India if either their mother or father had the citizenship of India at the time of their birth.
  4. Citizenship by Naturalization (Section 6) Another method of acquiring citizenship is by naturalization, which is a legal process through which an individual who is not born in a particular country can acquire citizenship of that country. In the context of India, citizenship by naturalization is governed by the Citizenship Act, 1955, which outlines the procedure and requirements for foreigners to become Indian citizens. To be eligible for citizenship by naturalization in India, an individual must have resided in India for at least 12 years continuously prior to the date of application. They must also have resided in India for a total of 14 years within the 20 years immediately preceding the date of application. Additionally, the individual must possess good character, have a sound mind, and be proficient in Hindi or any other language specified in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  5. Citizenship by Incorporation of Territory One can better understand this with an example of Pondicherry. When Pondicherry became a part of India, the community living there became inhabitants of India and automatically got citizenship of India.
Similarly, if any territory or an area comes to be a part of India, all the population that is residing there becomes a part of the country. Thus the citizens are upholding the acquisition of citizenship by transfer.

Modes of Losing Indian Citizenship

The Citizenship Act, 1955 also lays down the three modes by which an Indian citizen, whether a citizen at the commencement of the Constitution or subsequent to it, may lose his or her citizenship. It may happen in any of the three ways, renunciation, termination, and deprivation.
  1. Renunciation of citizenship (u/s 8): An Indian citizen of full age and capacity can renounce his Indian citizenship by making a declaration to that effect and having it registered. But if such a declaration is made during any war in which India is engaged, registration shall be withheld until the central government otherwise directs. When a male person renounces his citizenship, every minor child of him ceases to be an Indian citizen. Such a child may however resume Indian citizenship if he makes a declaration to that effect within a year of his attaining full age, i.e., 18 years.
  2. Termination of citizenship u/s 9: One can go for relinquishing of citizenship by way of termination of citizenship. If an Indian citizen voluntarily acquired citizenship in some other country, his existing citizenship of India gets terminated automatically.
  3. Deprivation of citizenship u/s 10: Obtaining citizenship by fraud, showing disloyalty to the country, and employment is unlawful which leads to the deprivation of a person from Indian citizenship by the Indian government.
Citizenship once acquired exists a right of citizen which cannot be otherwise taken away . Of course the ultimate power rests with the parliament and it can terminate citizenship of any citizen through a law ,but it has to be done through a valid act of parliament .

Nothing less than that can affect the status of a person as a citizen which has been provided under Article 10 of the Constitution of India.

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