Indian citizenship is one of the most sought after, due to the fact that the Indian citizens enjoy a high degree of freedom of all kinds. Read on to know more about Indian Citizenship.

Citizenship might be defined as a position or designation or status of being a citizen of any country. The Indian nationality law states the different conditions under which people are granted citizenship in India.  It is basically the relationship between the individual citizen and the country.  People are under the common misconception that both nationality and citizenship are the same. Nationality refers to a person legally belonging to a nation, whereas citizenship provides people with certain fundamental rights and duties as a citizen of the nation. In the most precise manner, Indian citizenship can be defined as a legal status entitling them with fundamental rights and duties according to the Indian constitution. 

Meaning of Citizenship

People born between 26th January 1950 and 1st July 1987 are unanimously granted Indian citizenship, regardless of the nationalities of their parents. But people born between 1st July 1987 and 3rd December 2004, are granted Indian citizenship only if one of their parents are native Indian. Post-2004, people born in the country are given Indian citizenship only if both parents are Indians or if one parent is an Indian and the other is a legal immigrant in India. The procedures to obtain Indian citizenship are different for people from different countries and it is a time-consuming process.

The Citizenship Act, 1955

This is the supreme Act that is part of the Indian Constitution that deals with acquiring and determining citizenship of India.  Indian citizenship can be obtained through different methods like birth, ancestry, official enrolment method, and the process of naturalization.  

Being listed under the Constitution’s Union List, citizenship falls under the Parliament’s exclusive jurisdiction.  While no official definition for the term ‘citizen,’ is included in the Constitution of India, details of the different categories of individuals eligible for Indian citizenship are listed under Articles 5 thru 11 (Part 2).   

Contrary to several other provisions that are part of the Indian Constitution, which legally came into effect starting from the 26th of January 1950, the afore-stated articles (5 thru 11) came into force at the time when the Constitution was adopted in the year 1949.  

Article 5 offers citizenship on the official effect of the Constitution, as per the following:

All those residing and/or having born in India were offered Indian citizenship.

People who resided in India, but were not born on the Indian soil, but had either of the parents born in India were regarded as our country’s citizens.

Besides, any general public or citizen having resided in India for more than five years in a row, is also eligible for enrolling themselves for acquiring Indian citizenship.

Article 6 of the Constitution offers rights of Indian citizenship to specific individuals who relocated from Pakistan and started residing in India.  

Indian independence was preceded by Partition and migration. Hence, this Article of the Indian constitution states that any individual having migrated to India prior to the 19th of July 1949, would inevitably be granted Indian citizenship, provided either of such individual’s parents or predecessors were born on Indian soil.

However, those having migrated to India subsequent to the afore-stated date would have to enrol themselves for acquiring citizenship.

Article 7 of the constitution provides for Indian citizenship for few individuals migrating to Pakistan, under the following conditions

Individuals having relocated to Pakistan after the 1st of March 1947 but returned later owing to migration permits were made part of the citizenship charter.

The law was greatly sympathetic to particularly those individuals who migrated to India from Pakistan and accorded them the status of refugees.

The same status was not accorded to those individuals – either stranded in Pakistan or migrated to that country with an intention of returning back to India sooner or later.

Article 8 accorded citizenship rights of certain individuals of Indian origin who are residing in countries outside of India.

Any individual of Indian Origin staying in a nation other than India, or individuals whose parents (either one of them) or predecessors were Indian born, is given the provision to enrol for Indian citizenship under the Diplomatic Mission of India.

Article 9 accords that, if any individual willingly obtained citizenship of any other foreign country, would no longer be eligible to hold the Indian citizenship and their existing citizenship of India would become invalid. 

Article10 states that every individual who is already an existing citizen of India or deemed to be one based on any of the constitutional provisions listed earlier in this article and based on those legal provisions that could be introduced by the Parliament, would continue to be an Indian citizen.

Article 11 empowers the Parliament to make any provisions related to the obtainment or cessation of Indian citizenship and all relevant aspects of the same.


The constitutional provisions that govern citizenship of India and all relevant matters of the same are treasured and listed out in the Citizenship Act of 1955. In Part 2 of Articles 5 to 11 of the Indian constitution, every aspect concerning Indian citizenship is elucidated in a comprehensive manner, and particularly about who were citizens of India till the time the constitution legally came into effect on the 26th of January 1950.  The Parliament is bestowed the power, under Article 11 of the Indian constitution, to introduce new laws and regulations or make amendments to the existing provisions concerning citizenship. It is based on this power that the constitution granted to the Parliament that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in the year 1955.