The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015

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The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced by Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr HaribhaiPartibhaiChoudhary on February 27, 2015 and Parliament passed the Bill. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 is enacted to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by the Parliament in 66th year of Republic of India and it will come into force on 6 January 2015.

Section 2 of the principal act is amended by the present Bill with a substituted clause (ee) regarding Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder who is a person registered as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder by the Central Government under Section 7A.

Another amendment is to Section 5 of the principal Act regarding sub-section (1) of it where in it relates to ordinary resident of India and is substituted by words “Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder”. Another change that this Bill has brought is a 30 day break given to people who have applied for Indian Citizenship if they have to leave India for some period of time. Central Government can do so if it deems necessary under special circumstances which is stated in clauses (f) (g) and (i) of the principal Act.

Section 7A, 7B, 7C and 7D of the principal Act has been substituted with new sections.  Central Government can register an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder upon application by any person of full age and who is a citizen of another country but was a citizen of India when Constitution commenced or was eligible to become Indian citizen at the commencement of constitution, or belonged to a territory which became part of India after 15 August 1947 or who is a child or grand-child of such citizen, or who is a minor child whose parents are citizen of India, or spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or whose marriage was registered for a continuous period of not less than 2 years when application was presented but to be eligible for registration such spouse must undergo security clearance by authority in India. One major restriction here is that if a person whose grandparents, great grandparents had been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or as notified by Central Government in official Gazette will not be eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder under this section.

Central government can by gazetted notification can specify the date from which present Persons of Indian Origin Cardholders shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizen of India Cardholders.

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Section 7B explains about the conferment of rights on Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder and but not entitled to certain rights that are conferred to a citizen of India like rights given under Article 16, 66, 124, 217 of Constitution, Section 16 of Representation of People Act 1950, Section 3 and 4, 5, 5A, 6 of Representation of People Act 1951.

Section 7C states about renunciation of overseas citizen of India cardholder. If a person ceases to be an overseas citizen of India Cardholder then his spouse and children also cease to be so.

Section 7D explains about cancellation of overseas citizen of India Cardholder registration if it was obtained by fraud, false representation, if he has done disaffection towards Constitution, if cardholder trades with enemy country when India is at war, if such person is imprisoned for not less than 2 years within 5 years after registration as Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder, or if it is needed to do so in the interest of sovereignty of India or if marriage of such cardholder has been dissolved by court of law.

Section 18 of the principal act has been amended and clause (eea) and (eeb) has been inserted which deal with conditions and manner in which a person can be registered and manner of renunciation as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

Third schedule of principal act has been amended. The Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance has been repealed but anything done or any action taken under the principal Act will be deemed to have been done under the provisions of this Act.

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by Sushma Javare.