Immigration law in India mostly come under the domain of International law. It deals with a person’s status of citizenship and his ability to get a residence in a country that wasn’t his/her birthplace. When such persons seeking citizenship or residency are granted the authorisation of staying in the said country they have to comply with certain rights and obligation of that country. Non-compliance of which can lead to deportation and other sanctions by the respective authorities of different countries. Citizenship forms an integral part of immigration laws, every country has different specification acquiring and loosing it. India, unlike other countries like U.S.A provides for single citizenship. The laws regulating acquiring and relinquishing one’s citizenship is governed by the constitution, Article 5 to 11 defines citizenship and the modes of acquiring and surrendering it. Usually immigration laws of a country are specified in the form of statutory provisions like U.S.A has Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. However, Indian immigration laws aren’t specified under any specific statutory provision except the constitution. The major decisions regarding acquisition of passports and visas by Person of Indian Origin, Foreign Nationals and Indian Citizens are made by the Bureau of Immigration and are overseen by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Bureau of Immigration is instituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India in the year 1971. It undertook the immigration function of the country to provide the travellers and shelter seekers with at most quality of service while ensuring the national security of the country. The bureau is headed by the Commissioner of Immigration and is subordinated by the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices. They are situated in sixteen different cities of the country and their primary task is to assist the bureau with registration of different foreigners under various regulation and acts in accordance with the Indian laws. The bureau assists and facilitates different immigrants in understanding the procedures involved in migrating to India. It aims to provide the immigrants with a compendious view of different areas and visa regulations that are imperative for an immigrant to comply with. Indian government over the years have worked to provide relaxed visa and citizenship regulations to foreign nationals and Indian citizens overseas. The visa charges differ from Nation to Nation. Neighbouring Nations like Pakistan and Sri Lanka are provided with visas at minimal charges. Whereas, citizens of neighbour countries of Nepal and Bhutan can enter in the country without visa if they meet certain health criteria specified by the government. India also grants visas free of cost to the citizens of countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Maldives, North Korea (DPRK), Poland, Slovak Republic, South Africa and Uruguay. The Indian government passed a bill in the year 2003 known as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2003 , allowing certain person of Indian origin to apply for dual citizenship by registering as under OCI or Overseas Citizenship of India, which is extended to all countries including United States. The first citizen to be issued under OCI certificate was in the year 2006. OCI certificates do enable people of Indian origin to be recognised as Indian citizens. However the government still puts certain restrictions as, such people are exempted from voting in any election, they are barred from holding government offices, and they are also restricted from purchasing certain kinds of properties in the territory of India. The act further amended the existing statute of citizenship called the Citizenship Act, 1955.
India’s Obligation as a Member of United Nation Organisations
India is one of the founding members of the United Nations as it signed the Declaration by United Nation Charter at Washington, D.C. in 1944 and also attended the first ever United Nation Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco in the year 1945. India among other countries contributed massively in drafting of the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights. As one of the founding members of the United Nation India have always supported and followed the principles laid down in the UN Charter. India have actively participated in all the meetings and resolutions of the UN and also contributed towards peace-keeping forces in various countries. With being a part of the United Nation General and Assembly and the Security Council India is also a part of United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). India has been elected as a member of UNHCR till 2017 currently the country is undergoing its break year as mandated by UNHRC rules which specify Members of the Council serve for a period three years will not be eligible for re-election after completing a period of two consecutive years . The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees was instituted in the year 1950 to deal with the aftermath of the Second World War which displaced a large number of communities across the globe. It is a successor of International Organisation of Refugees which was replaced by the UN in late 1940s. United Nation High Commission for Refugees’ original mandate was set out in a statue and broadened through the years in the form of several resolutions passed by the United Nation General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council. The mandate seeks to provide an international protection to the refugees on non-political and humanitarian basis . The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees in its motto recognises three substantial solution to the refugee crisis across globe they are, repatriation i.e., to return the refugees to their home country, resettlement of refugees in better places and their local integration in the new environment .
However, India is neither a signing member of the 1951 convention of the UNHCR nor a party to the 1967 Protocol of United Nation High Commission for Refugees . This enables India to formulate its own policies regarding admission and deportation of refugees. In 1971, during the freedom struggle of East-Pakistan when Bangladesh emerged as a new country, India hosted almost 10 million Bangladeshi refugees temporarily. The major political leaders and government office holders were of the opinion that the refugees should be sent back once the situation in the country becomes stable. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India conformed in the National news that she has made up her mind to host the refugees only temporarily and various camps were setup at the borders of Assam, Tripura and West Bengal for Bangladeshi refugees . Indian government with newly formed government of Bangladesh made arraignments for the repatriation of all the refugees that migrated during the struggle. Even with not being obligated to provide mandatory shelter and rehabilitation for the refugees, India is still one of the integral members of the United Nation Human Rights Council and also the signatory of United Nation Declaration of Human Rights. Article 13(2) of the Declaration specifies that every citizen has a right to leave his own country and return to the same . Further Article 15(2) of the Declaration states no person should be deprived of changing one’s nationality . Therefore, Indian government even after not being constrained by the international refugee laws and Resolutions of United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees had to recognise the basic human rights of the Bangladeshi immigrants. Later, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi amended her previous statement on the National forum and assured that the repatriation procedure on the immigrants would be initiated only if the government of Bangladesh assured their safety and human dignity on return . India by being a part of United Nation Organisations has a binding duty of care towards the humanity at large. The inter-governmental organization imposes the Charter on all its members by making them acknowledge basic fundamental rights, dignity of every human being, and equal rights for men and women. Every member of the United Nation recognises the need to promote co-operation between nations and working towards better social and economic change by ensuring the freedom of all the nations. Consequently, India by being a part the United Nation Organisation, has committed to providing better standard of living to the immigrants as well as proper shelter and care to the refugees.