Monday, January 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Centre clears dual citizenship
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

On board special aircraft, January 5
The long-pending demand of the people of Indian origin (PIO) for dual citizenship will be met in the near future, with the Centre giving its green signal to the proposal on the eve of the Pravasi Bharatiya Conference, scheduled to be held in New Delhi from January 9.

The inter-ministerial group, comprising the Home Ministry, the External Affairs Ministry and the Law Ministry, at a meeting on Friday, put its stamp of approval after thorough deliberations and the announcement on the issue would be made during the two-day conference, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani told a group of journalists on way to address the Partnership Summit 2003 in Hyderabad.

Mr Advani said the decision on dual citizenship followed a thorough deliberation on the legal and constitutional aspect of it in consultation with the Attorney-General of India and the Solicitor-General of India.

The Deputy Prime Minister, however, clarified that this dual citizenship right would not be automatic and would not be applicable to all People of Indian Origin living across the world.

Dual citizenship did not mean all the estimated 20 million PIOs would automatically attain the status In fact, each PIO would have to apply and it would be the prerogative of the Government of India whether to grant the dual citizenship or not, he said, adding that the proposal would also be applicable to PIOs living in those countries, which had the policy of dual citizenship.

Mr Advani said although the government would have to get the nod of Parliament for according dual citizenship status to PIOs there was no need of any Constitutional amendment.

According to Constitutional experts, a mere amendment to the Citizenship Act in this regard would be enough to put in place this policy. But the government, if it deemed it fit, could have a separate legislation for the same, he said.

According to the proposal, the PIO, after attaining the dual citizenship, would be entitled to all rights and privileges enjoyed by Indian citizens, but would not be allowed to contest any elections and will not have the right to franchise, he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to hold a meeting of Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of all states and union territories on January 7 to discuss and consider issues relating to internal security in the country.

This meeting will be the preliminary meeting, ahead of the Chief Ministers Conference on Internal Security, to be held in February, 2003, which would be addressed by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, he said.

A two-day Conference of Governors was also scheduled for January 11 and 12, which would deliberate on important issues confronting the nation. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam would address the conference.


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