Renunciation of Indian Citizenship

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    • More than six lakh Indians renounced citizenship in the past five years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha. 
      • The reason for a large number of Indians surrendering their citizenship was not stated in the reply.

    Background

    • Revised Form XXII under Citizenship Rules: In 2018, the MHA revised Form XXII under Citizenship Rules for declaration of renunciation of citizenship, which, for the first time, included a column on “circumstances/reasons due to which applicant intends to acquire foreign citizenship and renounce Indian citizenship”.
    • Simplification of the process: Recently, the MHA had simplified the process and provisions were made for the applicants to upload documents online and an upper limit of 60 days was fixed for the renunciation process to be completed.

    Figures about the renuncialtion

    • Global Wealth Migration Review report: In 2019, India came second only to China when it came to high net worth individuals (HNIs) leaving the country.
      • As many as 7,000 HNIs left India in 2019.
    • 2019 being a peak year: According to the data, the highest number of people gave up their Indian citizenship in 2019, whereas the lowest did in 2020.
      • The latter’s low rate can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • 2021 saw the steepest spike: Indians giving up their citizenship as worldwide travel and outdoor restrictions started to ease.
    • Country wise data: About 40% of the citizenship renunciation requests come from the United States, followed by Australia and Canada, which amount to a chunk of around 30% of such requests.

    Reasons behind Indians giving up their citizenship

    • Privileges: Majority of the Indians do it because of the privileges they get using the passports of other countries.
    • World passport index: India stands at the 69th number on the passport power rank according to the world passport index.
      • When comparing it with other countries – the rank of Australia is 3rd, USA is 5th, Singapore is 6th and Canada is 7th. At the top are UAE on number 1 and New Zealand on number 2.
    • Visa-free access: The higher the passport index ranking, the better access they get to travel visa-free to many countries.
    • Exempted from bureaucratic delays: They are also exempted from bureaucratic delays in the immigration process which is beneficial for traders and businessmen.

    Rules around citizenship in India

    • No dual citizenship: Under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, Persons of Indian Origin are not allowed citizenship of two countries
    • Surrendering the passport: If a person has ever held an Indian Passport and then obtains the passport of some other country, they will be required to surrender their Indian Passport immediately after they gain nationality of the other country.
      • After Indians renounce their citizenship, it is necessary for them to apply for surrender or a renunciation certificate.
    • Cancelled stamp: It should be noted that Indian passports that carry only a “cancelled stamp” are not considered renounced of their Indian citizenship.

    Constitutional Provision

    • Citizenship is listed in the Constitution’s Union List and hence falls within Parliament’s sole control.
    • The term “citizen” is not defined in the Constitution; however, Part 2 describes the numerous types of people who are eligible for citizenship (Articles 5 to 11).

    Indian citizenship can be obtained in the following ways

    • Citizenship conferred by birth
    • Citizenship through descent
    • Citizenship through registration
    • Naturalization leads to citizenship.
    • Territorial incorporation (by the Government of India)

    Termination of citizenship

    • Renunciation: Any Indian citizen who is also a national of another country who renounces his Indian citizenship in the prescribed manner through a declaration ceases to be an Indian citizen.
    • Termination: An Indian citizen’s citizenship can be revoked if he or she knowingly or voluntarily adopts the citizenship of another country.
    • Deprivation: In some cases, the Indian government may deprive a person of his citizenship. However, this does not apply to all citizens. Conditions for deprivation are:
      • Obtained the citizenship by fraud.
      • Citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India.
      • Citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated during the times of war.
      • Within 5 years of naturalization, the said citizen is imprisoned for a term of two years.
      • Citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for a period of 7 years.

    Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)

    • People eligible under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) may apply for citizenship after the rules are notified.
    • The CAA seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship for persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities in the Muslim-majority neighbourhood countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

    National Register of Citizens (NRC)

    • National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein. 
    • These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951. Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.
    • This NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
    • At present, only Assam has such a register and the exercise may be extended to other states as well. Nagaland is already creating a similar database known as the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants.

    Source: TH