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Several categories of the Citizens have been defined under Part – II of the Constitution of India. A citizen of the state is a person who enjoys full membership of the state. The Citizens of the country are different from aliens and mere residents. Citizens have all the rights provided by the state which may not be available to aliens and residents. For example, in India, the aliens don’t enjoy all the Fundamental Rights, the right to vote is available to the citizens alone. Citizenship inheres only in natural persons and not in juristic persons, like corporations.

What is Citizenship

Citizenship refers to the state of being recognized as a citizen of the state. Citizenship ensures that the person is a member of the state. It further provides the social and political rights to the citizens. A citizen has the right to take part in the governance and administration of the state.

Difference between Citizenship, Nationality, Overseas Citizenship and Resident


Nationality refers to the status of belonging to a particular nation. Thus, the person enjoys the nationality of the place where he is born. For example, a person born in India, automatically acquires Indian Nationality, however, in order to obtain the citizenship of a country, a person is required to apply for it, whereas, the nationality is automatically vested on a person, he need not apply for it. A national of one country may apply for the citizenship of a different country. Thus, one can change his Citizenship but can not alter his/her nationality.

Overseas Citizenship

Overseas Citizenship is granted to the people who are not ordinarily the citizens of the country. Thus, the person of India who migrated to other countries except for Pakistan and Bangladesh and has obtained foreign citizenship is awarded overseas citizenship. This should not be confused with dual citizenship. Overseas citizenship is provided only if the home country allows dual citizenship in some form or the other. However, the Overseas Citizens cannot enjoy all the rights which are provided to the citizen of the country for example

1. Overseas don’t have the right to vote.

2. He is not eligible to obtain an Indian passport.

3. One can not contest the elections of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council.

4. A person can not hold constitutional posts like President, Vice-President or the Judge of a Court.

5. He is not eligible to apply for government jobs.

6. He can not acquire the agricultural or plantation property but can inherit the same.


A resident is a person who resides in a country. A resident is not always the Citizen of the country. A foreign national residing in India can be termed as a Resident of India but not necessarily the Citizen of India unless he acquires Citizenship.

What are the different modes of acquiring Citizenship

Article 5, 6 and 8 of the Indian Constitution specifies certain methods by which a person can acquire the citizenship of India. These are discussed below:

By Domicile

Article 5 lays down two conditions for citizenship

  1. A person must have the domicile in the territory of India before the commencement of the Act.
  2. He must fulfil any of the three conditions given below:
  • He must have born in the territory of India, or
  • Either of his parents must have born in the territory of India, or
  • He must have been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than 5 years immediately preceding such commencement.

‘Domicile’ refers to the intention of residing in a country for an indefinite period.

The domicile is of two types:

  1. Domicile of Origin
  2. Domicile of Choice

1) Domicile of Origin

Every person is born with the Domicile of Origin. The domicile of origin is received by him at the time of his birth. The basis of obtaining such domicile is the paternity or maternity. Thus, a child will acquire the domicile of the same country to which the father was domiciled at the time of the child’s birth. The domicile of origin continues until a person acquires the domicile of choice. Once the domicile of choice is suspended then he again obtains the domicile of origin. In the case of a posthumous child, the child will have the domicile of the country to which his father was domiciled at the time of death.

2. Domicile of Choice

A person can acquire the domicile of choice by fulfilling two conditions:

a) Residing in a particular place

(b) Intention to reside permanently or for an indefinite period.

It must be noted that a child whose parents are unknown gets the domicile of the country in which he is found. After the marriage, the wife acquires the domicile of the husband. However, the case is different if they are judicially separated. In India, a person can not have two domiciles.

Citizenship by Migration

Article 6 of the Constitution of India provides that any person who has migrated to the territory of India from Pakistan shall be the Citizen of India at the commencement of the Constitution of India. For the purpose of Citizenship, people have been classified into two categories:

  1. Those who migrated to India before 19th July 1948
  2. Those who migrated India after 19th July 1948

The people who have migrated to India before 19th July 1948 have to fulfil two conditions in order to obtain citizenship:

  1. The person migrated to India or either of his parents or either of his grandparents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935.
  2. The person migrated to India has been ordinarily residing in the territory of India since the date of the migration.

The people who have migrated to India after 19th July 1948 have to fulfil the following four conditions

  1. The person migrated to India or either of his parents or either of his grandparents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935.
  2. The person has applied for citizenship.
  3. He has resided in India for 6 months
  4. He has been registered as a citizen of India by the officer appointed by the Government of the Dominion of India.

Citizenship by Registration

Article 8 of the Indian Constitution provides that the persons whose parents or grandparents were born in Indian but residing abroad can obtain the citizenship of India by registration.

Persons Voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign state

Article 9 provides that any person who has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state shall not remain the citizen of India. The cases of voluntary acquisition of foreign citizenship shall be dealt with by the Government of India under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Rights of Citizens

Certain rights are available only to the citizens of India and not the aliens or foreign nationals. These rights are:

  • Right to Vote
  • Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, place of birth. (Article 15)
  • Right to Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. (Article 16)
  • Protection of Freedom of Speech and Expression. (Article 19)
  • Protection of language, script or culture of the minorities. (Article-29)
  • Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Power of Parliament to make laws with respect to citizenship

Article – 11 of the Indian Constitution provides that the Parliament can make laws related to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and matters relating to citizenship. In exercise of this power, the parliament enacted the Citizenship Act in 1955. Several changes were made in the Act in 2003 and 2005 to introduce the concept of overseas citizenship of India.


  • V.N. Shukla, Constitution of India 44 (13th ed. 2017)
  • State Trading Corpn. of India Ltd. v. CTO, AIR 1963 SC 1811
  • Anmol Goyal and Sumit Gyal, ​Concept of Domicile, ​1 JUSIMPERATOR, 5 (2017)
  • Pradeep Jain v. Union of India, (1984) 3 SCC 654
  • D.P. Joshi v. State of Madhya Bharat, AIR 1955 SC 334
  • Kulathil Mammu v. State of Kerala, AIR 1966 SC 1614
  • State of U.P. v. Rehmatullah, (1971) 2 SCC 113

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