Dual citizenship is the position that results when a person holds the legal status of a citizen of more than one country at the same time and is eligible for the political, social, and economic rights of those states in exchange for fulfilling the obligations placed on them as citizens of both jurisdictions. Dual citizenship/Dual nationality could be seen as a kind of citizenship that legalizes its cultural identity based on the pre-existing logic of unalienable individual rights and inclusion in a global community that results from migration. A national is defined as “a person owing permanent allegiance to a state”.[1]

Before now, policymakers viewed dual citizenship as a challenge. Previous generations of politicians considered it an abomination of the natural order, akin to bigamy. Political allegiance to the state and citizenship were viewed as being mutually exclusive. Politicians were concerned that dual citizens would preserve their undivided commitment to their original country of citizenship rather than integrate into the nation to which they had immigrated.

However, over the past several decades, a shift has occurred: an increasing number of politicians now view dual citizenship as a possibility that has to be discussed from a variety of perspectives, ranging from passive acceptance to active encouragement. This shift is surprising given that multiple citizenships have historically been seen as a barrier to integration, legitimacy, foreign policy, and diplomatic protection. Dual citizenship is undoubtedly not a brand-new phenomenon, but we have seen it expand so quickly. More than half of the nations today permit some aspect or form of dual citizenship, including both countries of origin and destination.[2]

Dual Citizenship as a human right:

The fundamental rights to which a person is entitled depends largely on their nationality. Internationally and in regional treaties, the right to nationality is acknowledged. This issue is highlighted in the international sphere by Article 15[3] of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5[4] of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 9[5] of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and Articles 7[6] and 8[7] of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every person has the freedom to choose their nationality, according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Dual citizenship can be viewed as a way to protect nationality as a human right and as a vital component of people’s identities, as well as a way to prevent statelessness. One of the advocates of dual citizenship in Sweden, Mona Sahlin, asserted, ‘dual citizenship was not foremost a question of immigrants integration, but a matter of rights and decency that has a general character’. In light of this, it is difficult to get an international agreement on the legality of granting dual citizens the same rights as national citizens, notwithstanding the movement in public opinion around the world.[8]

Citizenship Laws in India:

There is no legislative framework in India that addresses dual citizenship. A citizen of India must renounce their citizenship, nevertheless, if they obtain citizenship in another nation. Dual citizenship is therefore prohibited in India. The Indian Constitution’s authors had a very clear aim when they flatly rejected the idea of India having “dual citizenship.” During the Constitution Assembly debates, Prof. K. T. Shah supported the idea of granting ‘dual citizenship’ to citizens “in any other country whose Municipal Law permits the local citizenship of that country being acquired without prejudice to the nationality by the birth of any of the citizens.” However, the Assembly turned down his suggestion[9]. Dual citizenship is specifically prohibited in India under Article 9[10] of the Indian Constitution, which stipulates that “no individual shall be a citizen of India… if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.” It deals “with circumstances where an Indian citizen had gained citizenship of a foreign State previous to the beginning of the Constitution.” There are two restrictions on the application of this regulation. First of all, it applies to everyone on January 26, 1950, the day the Constitution took effect. Second, if a person had “voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State,” they would forfeit their Indian citizenship if they were an Indian citizen.[11]

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI):

A High-Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora was established in 2000 under the leadership of Rd. L M Singhvi to make recommendations for “forging stronger ties between the Indian Diaspora and India.” It advocated “should provide for the grant of dual citizenship to persons of Indian heritage belonging to specifically selected nations” in its 2001 Report. As a result, new “Overseas Citizenship” provisions were added to the Citizenship Act in 2003.[12]

Later, the Central Government lifted this restriction through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, except for Pakistan and Bangladesh, and expanded the scope to “award OCI to all abroad Indians who migrated from India after 26th January 1950 as long as their home countries recognized dual citizenship under their local laws.” In the most recent amendment, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015, a new concept known as “Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder” was introduced, changing the regulations relating to overseas citizenship.[13] OCI must not “be misconstrued as dual citizenship.” The OCI designation is equivalent to “partial citizenship.” OCI card holders are entitled to certain privileges, such as a “lifetime visa to visit India at any time, for any period, and any purpose,” as well as “all rights in the economic, financial, and educational fields, on a par with NRIs, except the right to acquire agricultural or plantation properties.” OCI Cardholders, however, “shall not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India,” according to Section 7B(2).[14]

An Instance where Dual Citizenship is granted by India under exceptional circumstances:

All the residents of Longwa village in the Mon district of Nagaland enjoy dual citizenship of India and Myanmar. The Angh (village chief) family’s home is directly along the international border that divides India from Myanmar. A Longwa villager is free to travel throughout both India and Myanmar. The Konyak Naga tribe, the final head-hunters in India, comprises the locals of Longwa village. The Konyak tribe placed a high value on headhunting as a traditional activity. The winning tribe from battles between opposing tribes would display the heads of their losers as a sign of strength, might, wealth, and, believe it or not, fertility. This custom was abandoned after 1960.[15] Many people visit the Mon district because of the Konyak Nagas’ unique culture and traditions. And Longwa is one of the communities that tourists visit the most to learn more about Naga culture and traditions and to observe first-hand how the people of this isolated community live their dual citizenship like it’s nobody’s business. While speaking to a resident of Longwa village, who is a teacher by profession, Mr Nahlak told India Today NE, “We can’t divide the village between two countries, its Longwa village; we live like brothers and sisters despite man-made boundaries. Although officially it is demarcated between two countries i.e. India and Myanmar. It does not affect our brotherhood. “Mr Nahlak further said ” We are dual citizens, we can vote for both the countries, we choose as we like as we fall under one Chief Angh under one village council. We can vote for both countries. Myanmar development is slow, but development is present in India, and we assist our village brothers and sisters in whatever way we can.”[16]


The idea of dual citizenship is fraught with perplexing legal issues. The States are free to select either single or domestic citizenship because international law does not recognize “dual citizenship” as a human right. In several nations, dual citizenship exists in one way or another. Although the majority of nations have dual citizenship recognized in their internal laws, Asian nations like Japan and China have not. India is one of the few nations that uphold the principle of “one nation, one citizenship” and disapproves of having multiple citizenships. Indian policy on “dual citizenship” is fairly explicit. Indian law prohibits dual citizenship, and if one is acquired, one forfeits their Indian citizenship, as is clear from the Indian Constitution and Citizenship Act, 1955. This stance has also been clarified by the Supreme Court in the historic case of Izhar Ahmad Khan v. Union of India.[17] As a developing nation, India deals with a variety of issues like overpopulation, poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy. Adopting dual citizenship is not feasible for the nation as it might potentially unleash Pandora’s Box.

Author(s) Name: Varsha Jain (Pravin Gandhi College of Law,Mumbai)


[1]‘Nationality and Citizenship’ (IRJRC) https://ijrcenter.org/thematic-research-guides/nationality-citizenship/ accessed 07 January 2023

[2] A. Macklin, ‘The Securitization of Dual Citizenship’ (Research Gate, December 2007) <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228161603_The_Securitization_of_Dual_Citizenship> accessed 07 January 2023

[3] Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, art 15

[4] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1969, art 5

[5] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 art 9

[6] Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, art 7

[7] Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, art 8

[8] P.J. Spiro, ‘Dual Citizenship as a Human Right’ (2010) 8 (1) International Journal of Constitutional Law <https://doi.org/10.1093/icon/mop035> accessed 07 January 2023

[9] Constituent Assembly Debates (Proceedings), IX, 1949 (Loksabha) <https://loksabha.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C04081949.pdf> accessed 08 January 2023

[10] Constitution of India 1950, art 9


[12] ‘Overseas Citizenship of India’ (Prepp) <https://prepp.in/news/e-492-overseas-citizenship-of-india-indian-polity-notes> accessed 08 January 2023

[13] Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015, s 7A

[14] Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015, s 7B(2)

[15] Afrida Hussain, “Why people of Nagaland village enjoy dual citizenship of India and Myanmar’ (Indian Today NE, 06 January 2023) <https://www.indiatodayne.in/nagaland/story/why-people-nagaland-village-enjoy-dual-citizenship-india-and-myanmar-493794-2023-01-06> accessed 08 January 2023


[17] Izhar Ahmad Khan v Union of India (1962) AIR SC 1052

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