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OVERSEAS CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA: India Brought In Citizenship (Amendment) Act In 2003To Provide Citizenship To Overseas Indians

 

By Zile Singh

 

The Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended enacting Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003 (CAA-2003),   in order to provide citizenship to those persons who were of Indian Origin by birth or descent but later became citizens of some specified countries.  These specified countries are – Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Sweden, Switzerland, the  United Kingdom and the United States of America.  Section-7A(1) of the Act stated that the Government of India may, subject to such conditions of reciprocity,  register any person, on an application made in this behalf, as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) if (a) that person is of Indian origin of full age and capacity who is a citizen of any country mentioned above or (b) that person is of full age and capacity who  has obtained the citizenship of one of  these countries  on or after the commencement of the CAA-2003 and who was a citizen of India immediately before such commencement; or (c) that person is a minor of a person mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b).

 

A spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India and a spouse of foreign origin of an OCI are also eligible.

 

The OCI is not a “Dual Citizenship”.  OCI does not confer political rights. Detailed instructions and procedures on the Scheme are available on the Ministry of Home Affairs website:  www.mha.nic.in or www.cgivancouver.gov.in  Email: cons.vancouver@mea.gov.in   The OCI document is   a life long OCI Registration Booklet.    The Booklet and the foreign Passport need to be carried while traveling to /exiting from   India.  The OCI is good for multiple entries and multi- purposes.  The OCI holder can stay for any length of time in India without any registration with the Police.  He is entitled to general   parity with Non-Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties. They can purchase residential and commercial properties. They can inherit ancestral property.   Further benefits are notified by the Ministry from time to time.

 

An Overseas Citizen of India shall not be entitled to the following rights: (i) shall not be registered as a voter, (ii) shall not be eligible for election as President, Vice President, Member of Parliament or any Legislative Council and Assembly of a State, (iii) shall not be eligible to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, the High Courts and appointment to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any State.

 

Section 7-C of the Act provides that an Overseas Citizen of India of full age and capacity may renounce his overseas citizenship by making a declaration which should be registered with the Indian Embassy/High Commission or the Indian Consulate.  When a person ceases to be an overseas citizen of India, every minor child/ spouse of foreign origin of that person shall thereupon cease to be an OCI.

 

The Central Government is  empowered under Section 7-D of the Act to cancel the OCI by making an order if it is satisfied that (a) the registration as an OCI was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact; (b) the OCI has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India as by law established; (c) the OCI has, during any war in which India may be engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in, or associated with, any business or commercial activity that was to his knowledge carried on in such manner as to assist an enemy in that war; or (d) the OCI  has, within five years after registration as OCI,  been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years; or (e) it is necessary to cancel the registration in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity and security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interest of the general public.  The Indian civil/criminal laws are applicable to the OCI while in India.

 

Note:  By the expression ‘person of Indian origin’ shall mean a citizen of another country who(i) was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of the commencement of Indian Constitution; (ii) belonged to a territory that became part of India after the 15th day of August 1947 *; and (iii) the children and grand-children of a person covered under clauses (i) and (ii), but does not include a person who had been at any time a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Indian government may specify.

 

*The following territories became part of India after August 15, 1947: (1) Dadra & Nagar Haveli :11 Aug. 1961, (2) Goa, Daman and Diu : 20 Dec. 1961, (3) Puducherry : 16 Aug. 1962 and (4) Sikkim : 26 April 1975.

 

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

 

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