May 18, 2004
Maverick politician Subramaniam Swamy now claims to have found a clause in the Citizenship act, 1955 whereby the reciprocity clause should be used to ensure that Indian citizens of foreign origin must not be allowed to become PM in just the same way as citizens of Indian origin cannot become PM in the other country (Italy, in this case). The problem is in Swamy's interpretation and he classically puts his foot in his mouth, as usual. The relevant clause of the act is reproduced below:
5. Citizenship by registration
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, the prescribed authority may, on application made in this behalf, register as a citizen of India any person who is not already such citizen by virtue of the Constitution or by virtue of any of the other provisions of this Act and belongs to any of the following categories:
(a) persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in India and have been resident for five years immediately before making an application for registration;
(b) persons of Indian origin who are ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
(c) persons who are, or have been, married to citizens of India and are ordinarily resident in India and have been so resident for five years immediately before making an application for registration.
(d) minor children of persons who are citizens of India; and
(e) persons of full age and capacity who are citizens of a country specified in Schedule I:
PROVIDED that in prescribing the conditions and restrictions subject to which persons of any such country may be registered as citizens of India under this clause, the Central Government shall have due regard to the conditions subject to which citizens of India may, by law or practice of that country, become citizens of that country by registration.
The last provision indicates that any conditions which restrict Indians from becoming a citizen in any country should also apply while becoming a citizen of India. Swamy claims that this is enough to ensure that Sonia Gandhi cannot become the Prime Minister since Italy does not allow Indians who have become citizens there to become PM. The problem, Mr. Swamy, is that the provision only indicates that the restrictions should apply while granting citizenship. There is no mention of the reciprocity coming into the picture for constitutional posts. It's quite simple. If an Indian can be granted Italian citizenship, then an Italian can be granted Indian citizenship through registration, as long as the reciprocity of laws governing citizenship is upheld.
The NDA government failed in its bid to change the constitution to prevent Indian citizens of foreign origin (i.e. naturalized or registered citizens) from holding constitutional posts (such as President, PM, Governor, CM etc.). It couldn't do a thing for 6 years while it was in power and Ms. Gandhi was the Leader of the Opposition. It can't do a thing now too!
My objection to Sonia Gandhi becoming PM is not on flimsy grounds of foreign origin and other such forms of xenophobia. I object to her becoming PM because she has not displayed any administrative ability at any level, apart from the being the president of the Congress party.
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