Importance of Single Citizenship in India

Introduction to Single Citizenship

Though the Indian Constitution is federal and considers a dual policy of Centre and states, it empowers for only single citizenship, that is, the Indian citizenship. The citizens in India are obligated only to the union. There is no independent or single citizenship in the state.

Comparison of Single Citizenship System

The other federal states like the USA and Switzerland, on the other hand, have adopted the system of double citizenship.

In the USA, each individual is not only a resident of the USA but also of the specific state to which he belongs.

Thus, he owes adherence to both and enjoys double sets of rights—one set granted by the national government and another by the state government.

This system develops the problem of discrimination, that is, a state may discriminate in approval of its citizens in matters like the right to vote, the right to hold public employment, the right to practice professions, and so on.

This problem is prevented in the system of single citizenship prevalent in India.

Also Read: Salient Features of the Indian Constitution

Constitutional Acts and Laws for Single Citizenship

In India, all citizens irrespective of the state in which they are born or inhabit enjoy the equal political and civil rights of citizenship all over the country and no discrimination is created between them.

But, this general rule of the absence of discrimination is accountable to some exceptions, viz.

Article 10

The Parliament (under Article 10) specifies residence within a state or union territory as a requirement for certain employments or appointments in that state or union territory, or local administration or other supervision within that state or union territory.

Accordingly, the Parliament passed the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act, 1937, and thereby authorized the Government to prescribe residential qualification only for
selection to non-Gazetted posts in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Tripura.

As this Act ended in 1974 there is no such requirement for state except for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Article 15

The Constitution (under Article 15) restricts bias against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth and not on the ground of residence.

This implies that the state can provide special privileges or give priority to its residents in matters that do not come within the scope of the rights given by the Constitution to the Indian citizens.

For instance, a state may extend concession in fees for education to its citizens.

Article 19

The freedom of movement and residence (under Article 19) is subjected to the safety or interests of any scheduled tribe. In different terms, the right of outsiders to come, reside and settle in tribal areas is prohibited.

Of course, this is done to ensure the distinctive culture, language, customs, and manners of scheduled tribes and to protect their traditional vocation and property against exploitation.

Till 2019, the legislature of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was authorized to:

  • determine the persons who are permanent residents of the state; and
  • grant any special rights and privileges on such permanent residents
  • assignment under the state government;
  • obtainment of immovable property in the state;
  • settlement in the state; and
  • right to scholarships and other forms of relief provided by the state government.

The above condition was based on Article 33-A of the Constitution of India. This article was set in the constitution by “The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1934”.

This order was administered by the President under Article 370 of the constitution which had given a special status in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2019, this special status was revoked by a new presidential order known as “The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019”. This order replaced the earlier order of 1954.

Conclusion

The Constitution of India, like that of Canada, has established the system of single citizenship and empowered uniform rights (except in few cases) for the people of India to encourage the feeling of fraternity and unity among them and to create an integrated Indian nation.

Despite this, India has been noticing communal riots, class conflicts, caste wars, linguistic debates, and ethnic conflicts.

Thus, the important goal of the founding fathers and the Constitution-makers to build a harmonious and integrated Indian nation has not been fully recognized.

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