Session 5 Contours of Citizenship

The fifth session of CRCLP was on the “Contours of Citizenship” wherein the centre endeavoured to apprise the students of the basic law governing Citizenship and was divided into four parts.

The first speaker Deepika Sangwan elucidated upon the jurisprudential aspect of the law relating to citizenship with a special focus on the various concepts incidental to this theme. The session began with an important question, “What are the essential requirements to be a state?” This saw an excited Ist year answer in unison while Deepika noted them down on the board. She elaborated upon how population is identified and given legal recognition by the government (which is an agency of the state) by way of citizenship which may be called an identity card for the population of a state. The second question was with respect to why we need citizenship? This was received with responses from the audience and the gist of all the answers highlighted the rights conferred upon by citizenship. Here Deepika highlighted certain duties that come with those rights, such as paying taxes.  She also highlighted certain fundamental rights which were only enjoyed by citizens such as Articles 19, 14, 15, 16, 29, 30. While discussing the jurisprudential background of the law pertaining to citizenship, Deepika spoke how the gist lies in the Social Contract theory which outlined that a contract existed between people and the government where in turn for equal protection under law the people vow allegiance to the state.  India being a federal state wherein there is a division of power between the centre and the state, follows the concept of single citizenship.

After this she elucidated upon the three concepts of Citizenship, Nationality and Domicile. On difference between citizenship and nationality, Ruchi (IV year) answered that while the former is a juristic concept, the latter is by virtue of a sense of belongingness. While Citizenship can be on the basis of Birth, descent, marriage, incorporation, naturalisation, registration and can be changed according to municipal laws, Nationality is on the basis of birth and inheritance and cannot be changed. At this juncture to avoid any confusion Deepika, also elucidated how within international law sometimes these two terms are often used as synonyms. Speaking of the term Domicile she expounded how it embodied the two requirements of (a) intention and (b) residence and also was of various types depending on the place of birth and choice of the individual. She ended her segment with dictating some rules governing this aspect which were: (i) No person can be without a domicile, (ii) A person cannot have two domiciles simultaneously, (iii)Domicile connects an individual with a law of a territory, (iv) Presumption is always raised in favour of an existing domicile by birth.

The second segment wasspoken by Mayank, wherein he elucidated upon the Constitutional Provisions pertaining to Citizenship. Due to the huge citizenship dilemma posed due to partition the provisions on Citizenship came into force on 26 November, 1946. All the provisions deal with the concept as it was at commencement of constitution. According to the same there are three modes of acquiring citizenship which are first by Domicile, second by Migration and third by Registration. Mayank gave an extensive analysis of Articles 5-11, Indian Constitution which deal with these three modes.He posed a question to the audience as to “Whether you cease to be an Indian citizen after you move to Pakistan?” He stated that under Article 5 and Article 6 after March 1, 1947 if you move to Pakistan, it is  presumed that you do not have a permanent intention to stay in India and thus in case you come post this date then you ought to get yourself registered under Article 6. Here a question was raised by Gayathri (III year) as to why was the date prescribed as March 1? Mayank answered that this was the day Partition Riots in India began and the legislators were of the opinion that the intention to stay and continue Indian citizenship could be inferred from the act of migration during this period. She raised another question as to if this were the case, “Why was the date of 19th July, 1948 prescribed to override this provision?”This provision was inserted to safeguard the right to citizenship for people who were migrating to India from Pakistan as well. He ended his segment by highlighting that Entry 17 List 1 and Article 11 empowered the Parliament to draft laws on Citizenship.

The third speaker Gunsimran gave a brief overview of the subject by distinguishing the terms jus sanguinis and jus soli. She apprised the audience that India deals with jus sanguinis where the law pertaining to citizenship is governed by the Citizenship Act, 1955. In her segment she also highlighted that this act is essential as Indians form the largest expatriate population in the world. While speaking of modes of acquiring citizenship she highlighted how Section 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 provides for five modes i.e by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, or by the state acquiring territory. In her segment Gunsimran while expounding upon the concept of Overseas Citizenship of India explained the citizenship chaos surrounding eminent people and celebrities like Akshay Kumar. To conclude her segment she highlighted Section 8, 9, and 10 of the Act which lay down the law pertaining to renunciation of citizenship, termination of citizenship and deprivation of citizenship.

The last speaker Preyoshi acquainted the audience with three important cases pertaining to this subject matter. The first one was titled State Trading Corporation v. Commissioner of Tax Officer(1963) wherein the court laid down that only a natural person may be a citizen, a juristic person cannot be a citizen and consequently cannot claim violation of a fundamental right. This position was bended by the court after a decade in the case of Bennett Coleman and Co v. Union of India (1973), where the petitioners pleaded that imposing an import duty on newspapers was violative of Article 19(1)(a) and filed a writ petition under Article 32. The court held that if a company is registered in India, the shareholders may file a case for violation of a fundamental right. The Supreme Court in the case of Pradeep Jain v. Union of India(1984), outlined two broad justifications for the domicile reservation- financial assistance by the state and backwardness of a particular region. The session was concluded by Ananya Sharma by giving the recap of each segment and a brief introduction to the next session which will focus on the issue of National Register of Citizens of India with special focus on Assam.

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