Citizenship in India under the Indian Constitution

citizenship in India


When independence declared the country was divided into two parts: India and the other was Pakistan. The people were independent and could choose any country they wanted their nationality. Due to this, they need strict provisions to frame the nationality policy of India before the commencement of the constitution.


It is defined as the relationship of an individual with their sovereign state. They include two categories one is citizens and the other is aliens. Aliens are people who are not citizens of India. They are excluded from the citizenship. So when the partition happened people who moved to India and accepted their nationality became citizens of India and those who stayed back in became Pakistan citizens.

Constitutional citizenship of India

The Indian citizenship is discussed under the Part 2 of the constitution.  Articles 5 to 11 cover citizenship. Part 2 of the constitution is enforced from the signing date of the constitution which is 26th November 1949. From now the parliament of India holds control over the matter of citizenship as it is a matter of the union list in the 7th schedule.

Article 5 (citizenship at the commencement)

  • To become a citizen of India the person should be birth in Indian Territory.
  • The person is domiciled in India but not born there, but either of the parents was born in India.
  • If a person has lived more than 5 years in India they becomes a citizen of India.

Article 6 (citizenship of migrated person from Pakistan)

  • When a person migrated to India before 19th July 1949 was considered a citizen of India.
  • If one of his grandparents or parents were born in India the person is considered a citizen of India.
  • If the person is migrated after 19th July 1949 they will not be considered a citizen of India.

Article 7 (exception)

  • There is an exception the article overrides 5 & 6. When a person migrated from India to Pakistan after 1 March 1947 but returned to India with the resettlement permit they will be considered an Indian citizen.

Article 8 (person residing outside of India)

  • If the person residing outside of India but their parents or grandparents were born in India then the person can register him or herself under Indian citizenship with the help of diplomatic registration.

Article 9 (not deemed to be an Indian citizen)

  • Under this article, if a person before the commencement voluntarily asks the citizenship of another state then that person cannot demand Indian citizenship under articles 5, 6, and 7. They cannot acquire Indian citizenship.

Article 10 (continuance of citizenship)

  • If the person acquires Indian citizenship through above mentioned articles then his citizenship will continue but that right will be subject to laws passed by the parliament.

Article 11

  • Article 11 gives the parliament the power that after the constitution’s commencement, parliament can rule on citizenship. Parliament has also the power to restrict or revoke citizenship which was already given under articles 5 to 8.

The Citizenship Act and amendments

Firstly we discuss the amendments so you can easily understand the whole concept of citizenship.

  • 1986 amendment act of citizenship

Before the 1986 amendment Citizenship Act said that if anybody was born in India they would be considered a citizen of India but after the 1986 amendment it changed the provision and said that for citizenship it should be born in India also the person’s father have Indian citizenship then after you will be considered as Indian citizenship. There is no role of the mother in this amendment.

  • 1992 amendment act of citizenship

After this amendment discrimination against women was dissolved and considered that for citizenship either of the parents has to be an Indian citizenship.

  • 2003 amendment act of citizenship

In this amendment, a person who wants to acquire citizenship of India, one of his parent has to be an Indian citizen but the other must not be an illegal immigrant.

  • 2005 amendment act of citizenship

In this amendment, the people have dual citizenship but it does not apply to the citizenship of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Dual citizenship means (OCI) overseas citizen of India. A person from India but working outside the country is known as an overseas citizen.

  • 2019 amendment act of citizenship

This amendment gave a proviso in section 2 (1)(b) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. Which states that not all the person should be treated as illegal migrants. Such persons who belong to different religions like Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian who come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan before 31 December 2014.

Modes of Acquisition of Citizenship

  • Citizenship from birth

Section 3 of the Citizenship Act provides citizenship based on birth in India. Like

  1. From 26 January 1950 to 1st July 1987 if any person gave birth in India under this period they would automatically get citizenship in India. There is no effect on his citizenship whether his parents are Indian citizens or not.
  2. Due to this, every person gets Indian citizenship which is problematic because any illegal immigrant or refugees get citizenship in India, so to solve this problem, there is another amendment provided which comes with a new timeline which was 1st July 1987 to 3rd December 2003. According to this amendment citizenship will be given to that person who has at least one Parent must be an Indian citizenship.
  3. But this amendment is also not solving the problem so there is another timeline set which was 3rd December 2003 after this date any person who was birth in India will get citizenship if both parents have Indian citizenship or at least one parent and the other one is not an illegal immigrant.
  • Citizenship by descendants

  1. Under section 4 of the Citizenship Act, From 26 January 1950, after this period if any person gives birth outside of India they will get Indian citizenship if his father has citizenship of India.
  2. On 10th December 1992 a new amendment act came with gender neutrality under this amendment if any person was birth outside of India they would get Indian citizenship if either of his parents had the citizenship of India.
  3. On 3rd December 2004, a new amendment act came and ruled that if any person was birth outside of India and wants to acquire citizenship of India then their parents have to declare that the minor child does not hold any passport of another country and has to register in India within one year of birth.
  • Citizenship through registration

  • Under section 5 of the Citizenship Act, under this section, if anybody wants to get Indian citizenship they have to apply for registration.
  1. If a person has been resident in India more than 7 years they can apply for the registration.
  2. If a person originated in India but is a resident of any other country or place outside of India.
  3. If any individual is getting married to an Indian citizen.
  4. Person minor children who have Indian citizenship.
  • Citizenship through Naturalisation

Under section 6 of the Citizenship Act, if a person has all the qualifications mentioned under this section then the person can apply for the registration to the central government and the central government can allow the application. Which are

  1. He/ she should not be a citizen of any country where the Indians are prevented from being citizens of their country.
  2. He/she has to renounce the other citizenship for the Indian citizenship.
  3. They must reside in India before 12 months of the application date or have been working in Government services.
  4. They should know about the language which was mentioned under the 8th
  5. After the certificate is granted to that person he should have the intention to live in India.
  • Citizenship through Incorporation of Territory

Under section 7 of the Citizenship Act, if a foreign territory becomes part of India, so the government of India will give citizenship to those people. They are also considered as the citizen of India.

Loss of Indian citizenship

  1. Renunciation

    under section 8 of the Citizenship Act, when a person declares that he is leaving the citizenship of India and going to another country then he can apply to the authority. If both parents are no more Indian citizens then their minor child has a right to choose the country when he attains the age of majority.

  2. Termination 

    Under section 9 of the Citizenship Act, if a citizen of India voluntarily acquires another country’s citizenship then he is no longer an Indian citizen.

  3. Deprivation 

    Under section 10 of the Citizenship Act, the government can terminate a citizen based on fraud, disloyalty, or communication with the enemy, or after acquiring the citizenship he gets punished for 2 years under the period of 5 years of citizenship.


In India, citizenship is discussed under two parts which are the constitution of Indian citizenship and the Citizenship Act. The Indian citizenship is discussed under the Part 2 of the constitution. Articles 5 to 11 cover that after 26 January 1950 who will be a citizen of India and the Citizenship Act defines all the amendments and different things to know how the citizenship will be acquired.

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