Citizenship is the legal status given to a citizen of a particular country, which is granted by the Government. The rights that citizens of India have differ from non-citizens. For example, only citizens of India can contest in elections, 1), etc.
Proof of Citizenship
In India, the government has not mandated that citizens should hold any particular document to be regarded as Indian citizens, except in Assam. Indian citizens may choose which proof(s) of identification they want to acquire, based on the services that card/document provides. For instance, one must have a PAN Card to be able to file income tax returns or a Voter ID Card to vote in elections, but the government does not mandatorily require you to possess any of these proofs of identification.
Acquiring Indian Citizenship
Under the law, you are considered an Indian citizen if you are born in India and fall in one of the 3 categories below: 2
- If you were born between 26th January 1950 to 1st July 1987: You are a citizen irrespective of the nationality of your parents.
- If you were born between 1st July 1987 to 3rd December 2004: One of your parents should have been an Indian citizen when you are born
- If you were born on or after 3rd December 2004: Both your parents must be Indian citizens; or if only one of your parents is a citizen, then the other is not an illegal immigrant
There are three other procedures that can be followed to become an Indian citizen i.e. by descent,3 naturalization4 and registration.5 Through these, you can also acquire Indian citizenship if you were born outside India in certain cases. Indian residents and others, who are not citizens by birth, can apply for Indian citizenship. For more information, click here.
Termination of Indian Citizenship
Your status as an Indian citizen can be terminated if:
Furthermore, if you are not born as an Indian citizen and have acquired citizenship by naturalisation or registration under certain circumstances, then the Government may deprive you of your status as an Indian citizen:
- If you show yourself to be disloyal towards the Constitution of India,8
- If your citizenship was obtained fraudulently, by false representation or by not revealing crucial facts,9 etc.
- If, during any war India is engaged in, you have unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy, or knowingly associated with any business assisting the enemy,10
- If you were sentenced to jail in any country for at least 2 years, within 5 years of being registered/naturalized as an Indian citizen,11
- If you have been residing out of India for more than 7 years continuously, without being enrolled in any educational institute in that country,or in the service of Government of India, or an international organization of which India is a member. Your citizenship may also be deprived if, during this time, you have not demonstrated your intention to be an Indian citizen through the prescribed requirements.12
Read this government resource to know more
- Election Commission of India, FAQs, Contesting for Elections, Q.1., https://eci.gov.in/faqs/page/2/; Mr. Louis De Raedt & Ors. v. Union of India & Others, 1991 SCR (3) 149
- Section 3, Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 4, Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 6, Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 5, Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 8(1), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 9(1), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 10(2)(b), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 10(2)(a), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 10(2)(c), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 10(2)(d), Citizenship Act, 1955
- Section 10(2)(e), Citizenship Act, 1955