Constitution of India: Article 5: Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution

Article 5: Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution

At the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and — who was born in the territory of India; or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.

Background

Article 5, Draft Constitution, 1948  At the date of commencement of this Constitution-

(a) Every person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born in the territory of India as defined in this Constitution and who has not made his permanent abode in any foreign State after the first day of April 1947; and 

(b) Every person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 (as originally enacted), or in Burma, Ceylon or Malaya, and who has his domicile in the territory of India as defined in this Constitution, shall be a citizen of India, provided that he has not acquired the citizenship of any foreign State before the date of commencement of this Constitution. Explanation.- For the purposes of clause

(b) of this article, a person shall be deemed to have his domicile in the territory of India. Draft Article 5 (Article 5) laid down basic principles of citizenship. The Assembly discussed this Draft Article on 10th August 1949, 11th August 1949, and 12th August 1949. Some members sought to include a residuary provision for citizenship based on religion.  They argued that every Hindu or Sikh who is not a citizen of any other state, irrespective of their residence should be entitled to Indian citizenship. In rebuttal, one member strongly urged against hyphenating religion and citizenship. He argued that rules must be informed by justice and equity and not on extraneous conditions. Another member was keen on the draft article accommodating dual citizenship. He added that this privilege must be extended to countries on the principle of reciprocity.

One member believed that this Draft Article made Indian citizenship cheap. In response, it was pointed out that this Draft Article was stricter than the American law on citizenship. Few members voluntarily withdrew their amendments, while other amendments which were put to vote were negatived. The Constituent Assembly adopted Draft Article 5 as introduced by the Drafting Committee on 12th August 1949.