• In September 2000, the Government of India (Ministry of External Affairs) had set-up a High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora under the Chairmanship of L.M. Singhvi.
  • The mandate of the Committee was to make a comprehensive study of the global Indian Diaspora and to recommend measures for a constructive relationship with them.
  • The committee submitted its report in January 2002. It recommended the amendment of the Citizenship Act, 1955, to provide for grant of dual citizenship to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) belonging to certain specified countries. Accordingly, the citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, made provision for acquisition of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) by the PIOs of 16 specified countries other than Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It also omitted all provisions recognizing, or relating to the Commonwealth Citizenship from the Principal Act. Later, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, expanded the scope of grant of OCI for PIOs of all countries except Pakistan and Bangladesh as long as their home countries all dual citizenship under their local laws.
  • It must be noted here that the OCI is not actually a dual citizenships as the Indian Constitution forbids dual citizenship or dual nationality (Article 9).
  • Again, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015, has modified the provisions pertaining to the OCI in the Principal Act. It has introduced a new scheme called “Overseas Citizen of India Card holder” by merging the PIO card scheme and the OCI card scheme.
  • The PIO card scheme was introduced on 19-08-2002 and thereafter the OCI card scheme was introduced w.e.f. 01-12-2005. Both the schemes were running in parallel even though the OCI card scheme had become more popular. This was causing unnecessary confusion in the minds of applicants. Keeping in view some problems being faced by applicants and to provide enhanced facilities to them, the Government of India decided to formulate one single scheme after merging the PIO and schemes, OCI containing positive attributes of both.
  • Hence, for achieving this objective, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015, was enacted. The PIO scheme was rescinded w.e.f. 09-01-2015 and it was also notified that all existing PIO cardholders shall be deemed to be OCI card holders w.e.f. 09-01-2015.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015, replaced the nomenclature of “Overseas Citizen of India” with that of “Overseas Citizen of India Card holder” and made the following provisions in the Principal Act :
1. Registration of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder

(1) The Central Government may, on an application made in this behalf, register as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder—

(a) any person of full age and capacity,—

  • who is a citizen of another country, but was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution; or
  • who is a citizen of another country, but was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of the commencement of the Constitution; or
  • who is a citizen of another country, but belonged to a territory that became part of India after the 15th August,1947; or
  • who is a child or a grandchild or a great grandchild of such a citizen; or

(b) a person, who is a minor child of a person mentioned in clause (a); or

(c) a person, who is a minor child, and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India; or

(d) Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application.

  • No person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

(2) The Central Government may specify the date from which the existing persons of Indian Origin Cardholders shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India Cardholders.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in point (1), the Central Government may, if it is satisfied that special circumstances exist, after recording the circumstances in writing, register a person as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

2. Conferment of Rights on Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder

(1) An Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall be entitled to such rights, as the Central Government may specify in this behalf.

(2) An Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall not be entitled to the following rights (which are conferred on a citizen of India)—

(a) He shall not be entitled to the right to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.

(b) He shall not be eligible for election as President.

(c) He shall not be eligible for election as Vice-President.

(d) He shall not be eligible for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

(e) He shall not be eligible for appointment as a Judge of the High Court.

(f) He shall not be entitled for registration as a voter.

(g) He shall not be eligible for being a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States.

(h) He shall not be eligible for being a member of the State Legislative Assembly  or the State Legislative Council.

(i) He shall not be eligible for appointment to public services and posts in connection with affairs of the Union or of any State except for appointment in such services and posts as the Central Government may specify.

3. Renunciation of Overseas Citizen of India Card

(1) If any Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder makes in the prescribed manner a declaration renouncing the Card registering him as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder, the declaration shall be registered by the Central Government, and upon such registration, that person shall cease to be an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

(2) Where a person ceases to be an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder, the spouse of foreign origin of that person, who has obtained Overseas Citizen of India Card, and every minor child of that person registered as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall thereupon cease to be an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

4. Cancellation of Registration as Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder

The Central Government may cancel the registration of a person as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder if it is satisfied that—

(a) the registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact; or

(b) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India; or

(c) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has, during any war in which India may be engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy; or

(d) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has, within five years after registration, been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years; or;

(e) it is necessary so to do in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public; or

(f) The marriage of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder—

(i) Has been dissolved by a competent court of law or otherwise; or

(ii) Has not been dissolved but, during the subsistence of such marriage, he has solemnised marriage with any other person.

  • A person not born in India, but having acquired citizenship by registration or otherwise can become Prime Minister of India
  • The Constitution does not differentiate between an ordinary and a naturalized citizen as far as eligibility to contest for Lok Sabha seat is concerned.

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