Question of Citizenship is subject to Decision of Central Government
Government of Andhra Pradesh v. Syed Mohd. Khan , AIR 1962 SC 1778
Facts: A group of twenty-two appeals had been brought to the Supreme Court with certificates granted by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, and they challenged the correctness of the decision of the said High Court that rule 3 in Schedule 3 of the Citizenship Rules, 1956 was ultra vires . Twenty-two persons who were the respective respondents in these appeals filed twenty-two writ petitions in the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the validity of the orders passed by the appellant, Government of Andhra Pradesh, asking each one of them to remove themselves out of India before the date specified in the notices served on them in that behalf. It appeared that all the said persons had come to India with a passport issued in their favour by the Government of Pakistan, and the appellant's case before the High Court was that as a result of the conduct of the respondents in applying for and obtaining the Pakistani passport, they had lost the citizenship of India and had voluntarily acquired the citizenship of Pakistan. That was how the appellant justified the notices served on the respondents calling upon them to leave India.
The respondents, on the other hand, contended that section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955) and rule 3 in Schedule 3 of the Citizenship Rules were ultra vires and they urged that they had not acquired the citizenship of Pakistan and continued to be the citizens of India. These writ petitions were tried by Bhimasankaram, J. The learned Judge held that the impugned section and the rule were intra vires and he came to the conclusion that as a result of section 9 read with rule 3 in Schedule 3 of the Citizenship Rules, as soon as it was shown that a person had acquired a passport from the Pakistan Government, there was an automatic statutory cesser of his citizenship of India. As a result, the learned Judge upheld the validity of the orders of deportation passed by the appellant against the respondents and dismissed the writ petitions without costs.
This decision was challenged by the respondents by preferring 22 appeals before a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The Division Bench which heard these appeals held that section 9 was intra vires , but found that rule 3 of Schedule 3 of the Citizenship Rules was ultra vires . In its opinion, the said rule was outside the authority conferred on the Central Government by section 9(1) and it also contravened Article 19 of the Constitution of India. The consequence of these findings inevitably was that the orders of deportation passed by the appellant against the respondents were held to be invalid. That was why the appeals preferred by the respondents were allowed and a writ of mandamus was issued directing the appellant to forbear from enforcing the said orders of deportation.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had also observed that under the Citizenship Act and the Rules framed thereunder, the Central Government had been constituted as a Special Tribunal for deciding the question as to whether a person had acquired the citizenship of a foreign country or not, and so, before issuing the orders of deportation, it was necessary that the appellant should have obtained a decision of the Central Government on the point about the status of the respondents. The High Court accordingly made it clear that its decision in the appeals in question would not preclude the Central Government from determining the question whether the respondents have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country within the meaning of section 9(1), but it added that in deciding the question, the Central Government must ignore rule 3 of Schedule 3 which, in its opinion, was ultra vires . It is against this decision of the Division Bench about the invalidity of the impugned rule that the appellant had come to the Supreme Court.
Issue: Whether the Citizenship Act, 1955 and its impunged Rules, 1956 are intra vires and valid?
Judgment: It might be that if a passport from a foreign Government was obtained by a citizen and the case fell under the impugned rule, the conclusion may follow that he has acquired the citizenship of the foreign country; but that conclusion could be drawn only by the appropriate authority authorised under the Act to enquire into the question. Therefore, there was no doubt that in all cases where action was proposed to be taken against persons residing in this country on the ground that they have acquired the citizenship of a foreign State and had lost in consequence the citizenship of this country, it was essential that that question should be first considered by the Central Government. In dealing with the question, the Central Government would undoubtedly be entitled to give effect to the impugned rule 3 in Schedule 3 and deal with the matter in accordance with the other relevant Rules framed under the Act. The decision of the Central Government about the status of the person was the basis on which any further action could be taken against him. Therefore, there was no substance in the argument that the orders of deportation passed by the appellant against the respondents should be sustained even without an enquiry by the Central Government about their status. That was why the Court thought, in substance, the direction of the High Court was right, though the High Court was in error in holding that the Central Government should hold the enquiry without reference to rule 3.
And also it was held that the Citizenship Act of 1955 and its impunged Rules of 1956 are intra vires and valid.