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Issue Of Foreign Origin
"SONIA UNDER SCRUTINY "

Editor : A Surya Prakash


   
 
  Contents  
 
1.
Introduction A Surya Prakash 7
 
2.
Citizenship: The Constitution And The Law
K N Bhat 14
 
3.
 
Should India Have A 'Conditional'
Prime Minister ?
A Surya Prakash 30
 
4.
Sonia's Craze For Power Jaya Jaitly 36
 
5.
Sonia In Politics: A National Diasaster S Gurumurthy 54
 
6.
The Sonia - Quattrocchi Connection Dina nath Mishra 67
 
7.
Is Sonia Lying To Save Her Friend ? S Gurumurthy 80
 
8.
The Bofors Case: Any Reason To Feel Good ? K N Bhat 85
 
9.
Sneaking Into Our Voters' List A Surya Prakash 91
  10. Congress At The Crossroads Hiranmay Karlekar 103
  11. Sonia Gandhi For PM ? Not On Indian Soil Gautham Siddharth 113
  12. Have The Guts To Say She Is A Foreigner S Gurumurthy 126
    Annexure I - Historic Letter to Congress
Presiedent
  130
    Annexure II -The Citizenship Act. 1995   135
    Annexure III Certificate from the Delhi
Electoral Office
   
    About the Contributors   155
 


SHOULD INDIA HAVE A 'CONDITIONAL' PRIME MINISTER?


A Surya Prakash

Those who say that Sonia Gandhi can be Prime Minister are obviously unaware of, or are unwilling to acknowledge, the vulnerability of certain 'citizens' like her under the Citizenship Act. India cannot possibly be comfortable with a Prime Minister whose citizenship is conditional, whose citizenship can be challenged and even withdrawn under certain circumstances. More, a citizen whose status becomes dependent on the vagaries of Italy's citizenship and naturalisation laws!
         Despite the party's declining electoral fortunes and a strong national sentiment against a 'foreigner' Prime Minister, members of the Congress continue to persist with the idea of rojecting Sonia Gandhi as their candidate for the high office.

Sonia Gandhi has been a serious contender for prime ministership since 1999. Should she ever realise her dreams, it could have grave repercussions for our republic and our political system. In my view, Sonia is ineligible for any high office for the simple reason that her citizenship is conditional and subject to cancellation if she were to violate the stipulations laid down in the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Further, unlike natural-born Indians (citizens by birth) who are citizens of the first class, Sonia occupies a much lower rung in the hierarchy of citizens that exists under this law. The main points of difference are as follows:

Under this law, a person who is born in India and either of whose parents is a citizen of India, is a citizen of India by birth. A person born outside India and either of whose parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth, is a citizen of India by descent.

Citizens by birth become citizens of India with the first breath of life and retain it, if they so desire, till their last breath. They do not 'apply' for citizenship. Nor do they have to file an affidavit swearing allegiance to the Constitution of India or take an oath in this regard before an Oath Commissioner. Their allegiance to the Indian Constitution is taken for granted. Finally, no force on earth can deprive them of their Indian citizenship. Even if a citizen by birth is found guilty of treason, he cannot be deprived of his citizenship.

He can be jailed for life or hanged but his citizenship cannot be tinkered with. That is why citizens by birth are citizens of the first class. Since citizenship is a fundamental qualification for holding public office in any country, citizens by birth are eminently suited for high constitutional offices.

Foreigners who marry citizens of India and are ordinarily resident in India can apply for Indian citizenship under Section 5 of this Act. If granted citizenship, and this is subject to 'conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed', they are known as citizens by registration.

Other foreigners who make India their home and seek Indian citizenship become naturalized citizens if their applications are accepted. Under Section 6 of the Act, where an application is made in a prescribed manner by such a foreigner, the Central Government can grant the certificate of naturalisation, if it is satisfied that the applicant is qualified as per the provisions outlined in the Third Schedule to the Act. The Third Schedule lays down several qualifications for naturalisation of a foreigner like Sonia Gandhi and under this Act, it is on the incumbent Central Government to ensure the following..

 
a.
 

that the applicant is not a subject or citizen of any country where citizens of India are prevented by law or practice of that country from becoming subjects or citizens of that country by naturalisation;

 
b.
 

that if he is a citizen of any country, he has renounced the citizenship of that country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and has notified such renunciation to the Central Government;

  c.

that he is of good character

 
d.
 

that he has adequate knowledge of a language specified in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.


These are just some of the stipulations. There are a few more. But the point to note is that foreigners who seek Indian citizenship either under Section 5 (citizens by registration) or Section 6 (citizens by naturalisation) need to formally apply for citizenship, swear allegiance to the Constitution of India and convince the Central Government that they have the qualifications outlined in the Act before they are granted citizenship. Further, the government is bound by this law to ensure that the conditions and restrictions imposed on an applicant is similar to the conditions and restrictions imposed on Indians seeking registration or naturalisation in the applicant's country of origin.

The Indian Citizenship Act demands reciprocity both in respect of citizens by registration and citizens by naturalization. Section 5 of the Act says that the Government has the power to impose conditions and restrictions on such foreigners who seek Indian citizenship following marriage to Indian citizens. Further, while prescribing these conditions and restrictions, 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.

What this means is that if a citizen of Italy were to marry a citizen of India and seek Indian citizenship, the conditions and restrictions imposed on such a person under the Citizenship Act 'shall' be reciprocal. In other words the Central Government is duty bound under this law to examine the political and other rights conferred on an Indian citizen who marries an Italian, resides in Italy and seeks Italian citizenship, and thereafter determine the 'conditions and restrictions' to be imposed on the Italian who applies for Indian citizenship.

Finally, the clincher. The Citizenship Act outlines the circumstances in which both citizens by registration and citizens by naturalisation can be deprived of their citizenship.

Section 10 of the Act says citizenship can be withdrawn if the government is satisfied that:

 
a.
 

the registration or certificate of naturalisation was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact ; or

 
b.
 

the citizen has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards the Constitution of India as by law established; or

 
c.

the citizen has, during any war in which India may be engaged unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in, or associated with, any business that was to his knowledge carried on in such manner as to assist an enemy in that war; or

 
d.

the citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalisation, been sentenced in any country to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years; or

 
e.

the citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for a continuous period of seven years.

But this is not all. Under Section 17, those who acquire citizenship through false representations can be punished with imprisonment extending up to six months or with fine or with both.

Therefore, unlike one billion Indian citizens by birth, who can never be deprived of their citizenship, Sonia Gandhi will have to constantly look over her shoulder and guard against her citizenship being challenged on any of the grounds listed in Section 10.

(To know more about this law see annexure II)
Also, a close reading of the Act shows that her political and civic rights will always be dependent on the political and civic rights enjoyed by Indians who seek Italian citizenship.

Those who say Sonia Gandhi can be Prime Minister are obviously unaware of, or are unwilling to acknowledge, the vulnerability of certain 'citizens' like her under the Citizenship Act. India cannot possibly be comfortable with a Prime Minister whose citizenship is conditional, whose citizenship can be challenged and even withdrawn under certain circumstances. More, a citizen whose status becomes dependent on the vagaries of Italy's citizenship and naturalisation laws!

The current legal position obviously provides space for mischief where even persons with 'conditional' citizenship can head the government or occupy other constitutional offices.

This loophole needs to be plugged at the earliest through a simple amendment of Citizenship Act, which makes certain public offices out of bounds for 'conditional' citizens.

Until this 'blackhole' in India's citizenship law is plugged, 'citizens' like Sonia Gandhi will continue to display the temerity to aspire for the office of Prime Minister in the world's most populous and vibrant democracy. Persons like Sonia Gandhi, incidentally, are doubly blessed. A perusal of the Italian Constitution shows that she can aspire to be the Prime Minister of Italy as well. Article 51 (3) of the Italian Constitution says: "Italians who do not belong to the Republic can be placed on par with resident citizens in the matter of admission to public office and elective positions." A proviso to this Article seeks to remove all ambiguity when it says: "The law may extend this right to persons who are Italians from an ethical viewpoint but who are not citizens of the Republic."

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