India: Supreme Court issues Governmental alert on Dual Citizenship Rights

In response to a petition that challenged the practice of automatically losing one's Indian citizenship upon gaining citizenship in another country, the Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Central Government of India.

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Supreme Court Notice on Citizenship Challenge

The petition, filed by Tarunabh Khaitan, a constitutional scholar and Public Law Chair at the London School of Economics, argues that such provisions in the Citizenship Act, 1955, are unconstitutional.

Several sections of the Citizenship Act are challenged in Khaitan's petition. These provisions include Subsection 9(1), Subsection 4(1A), and the Second Proviso to Subsection 4(1A), respectively. Because of these provisions, Indian citizenship is automatically revoked upon the acquisition of another citizenship.

Constitutional Scholar's Petition

The petition, drafted by legal scholar Dr. Saif Mahmood, contends that this involuntary termination of citizenship is not only unconstitutional but also contrary to Indian constitutional values and international law. It argues that such termination deprives individuals of the "right to have rights," akin to exile, and categorizes India among the most restrictive nations in terms of automatic and involuntary loss of citizenship.

The petitioner is not seeking a general recognition of dual citizenship but rather is addressing the disproportionate and involuntary termination of citizenship under the challenged provisions, as Khaitan and senior advocates explained to the bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh during the presentation of the case. As a result, people are put in the difficult position of having to choose between the safety net provided by their nation of abode (Karmabhoomi) and the place of their birth (Janmabhoomi).

The notice issued by the Supreme Court indicates that the case will be heard and the constitutional validity of the relevant provisions in the Citizenship Act will be considered.

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