Applicants for Indian Citizenship Will Now Have to Mention Their Religion

The religion requirement is applicable only for minority applicants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, says a news report.


The Indian government has introduced a “religion” column in the Indian citizenship form where applicants will have to furnish information about their religion. This change has been brought by the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules 2018, which were introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Oct.18.

According to an Economic Times report, the Home Ministry said that this religion-related amendment is applicable only for minority people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who want to become Indian citizens.

“It would not be appropriate to interpolate that anyone seeking citizenship needs to declare religion. Earlier, notifications were issued in 2014 and 2016 on the issue but it has been inserted in Citizenship Rules this time,” a home ministry spokesperson told the paper.

However, it is not mentioned in the amendment that declaring religion is mandatory for people of these three countries only, the report said.

It is important to note that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is pending in the Parliament and the bill has a provision that makes the ‘refugees’ of minority religions in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship.

The new rules make it mandatory for people applying for Indian citizenship by registration to declare their religion in the application form. Before this amendment, it was not mandatory for people to mention their religion in the application forms, it added. This amendment has been done in Schedule 1 of Citizenship Rules, 2009.

Be it the Citizenship Act, 1955 or the Citizenship Rules, 2009, there is no mention of religion detail as a requirement for citizenship.

The Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs says that under the Citizenship Act, 1955, Indian citizenship is given based on birth, descent, registration, and naturalization and these categories have many sub-categories within them.

Legal Era said on its website that after the amendments, “Persons of Indian Origin who are ordinarily Indian resident for six months, spouse of a citizen of India, and minor child of a citizen of India are required to specify their religion in their applications for registration as a citizen.”

The Home Ministry has also said recently that the foreigners married to Indian origin people or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders can now opt for privileged Overseas Indian Origin Card which will give them multiple entries and life-long visa to India.

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