If Parents Renounce Citizenship, Child In Womb Entitled To It: High Court

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Even though the parents renounce their Indian citizenship and opt for citizenship elsewhere, their unborn child at the time of renunciation is entitled to claim Indian citizenship, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Justice Anita Sumanth gave the ruling while allowing a writ petition from Pranav Srinivasan, now 22 years old, seeking Indian citizenship.

He sought to quash an order dated April 30, 2019 of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which rejected his plea.

The parents of the petitioner, though originally Indian citizens, renounced their citizenship and obtained citizenship of Singapore in December, 1998. The petitioner was a seven and a half month foetus at that time. He was born on March 1, 1999 in Singapore and acquired its citizenship by virtue of his birth there.

He became major on March 1, 2017. He made a declaration before the Indian Consulate at Singapore on May 5, 2017 seeking resumption of his Indian citizenship. The application was in Form XXV in terms of Rule 24(1) of the Citizenship Rules 2009, entitled ‘Declaration of Intention to Resume Indian Citizenship under Section 8(2) of the Citizen’s Act made by a person who ceased to be an Indian citizen on the loss of Indian citizenship by his parents in accordance with the provisions of Section 8(1) of the Citizen’s Act.

The petitioner claimed he ceased to be an Indian citizen by virtue of Sub Section (1) of Section 8 of the Act, on April 20, 2012, by reason of the fact that his parents became citizens of Singapore on December 19, 1998 on which date, he was en ventre sa mere, or in the womb of his mother. Since the petitioner ceased to be an Indian citizen, he sought renunciation of the same in terms of Section 8(2) as both his parents and grandparents were citizens of India by birth, his grandparents continue to be citizens as on date and he was an Indian citizen at the time when his parents renounced their Indian citizenship, the petitioner said.

Allowing the petition, the judge said that a foetus or embryo, particularly one who was seven and a half months on the critical date, that is December 19, 1998, certainly has acquired the status of a child. With this status, he acquires citizenship of his parents, i.e, Indian citizenship and one that they renounced on the aforesaid date. Thus the protection/entitlement available under Section 8(2) for resumption of citizenship cannot be denied to him, the judge said.

“The impugned order insofar as it seeks to deny the petitioner such status is, in my view, contrary to the clear language and avowed intention of Section 8(2) as well as copious jurisprudence available in this regard,” the judge added and set aside the rejection order of the Union Ministry. The petitioner is entitled to resumption of citizenship and will be issued a document of citizenship within four weeks, the judge said.

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