Notwithstanding anything in articles 5 and 6, a person who has after the first day of March, 1947, migrated from the territory of India to the territory now included in Pakistan shall not be deemed to be a citizen of India:
Provided that nothing in this article shall apply to a person who, after having so migrated to the territory now included in Pakistan, has returned to the territory of India under a permit for resettlement or permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law and every such person shall for the purposes of clause (b) of article 6 be deemed to have migrated to the territory of India after the nineteenth day of July, 1948.
Article 7 (Article 5AA of the Draft Constitution) regulates citizenship claims of persons who have migrated to Pakistan.
During the debates, some Assembly Members were concerned about the permit system and the effect that this article would have on property rights.
The partition of India and Pakistan triggered migration between India and Pakistan. The Government of India passed an ordinance on 19th July 1948 to set up a permit system for persons migrating from Pakistan to India. This offered three types of permits: temporary, permanent and resettlement. Persons with resettlement permits could claim citizenship rights under this article.
Some members thought that this article was ‘obnoxious’ because once persons migrate from India to Pakistan they would have ‘transferred their loyalty’ to another country. The permit system treats these persons favourably and makes it easier to obtain Indian citizenship. Instead, it was argued that migrants from Pakistan should be treated like other foreigners and they could acquire citizenship from naturalization. However, others responded to this argument by pointing out that the local officers, who are tasked with issuing the permit systems, carefully examine each case. Permits are not issues in a lackadaisical manner. Further, the members of the Drafting Committee reminded the Assembly that the Indian government had promised rehabilitation and resettlement measures for migrants from Pakistan. And put in place a permit system for citizenship claims. Going back on these words would be ‘invidious’ and cause ‘grossest injustice’.
Some were concerned with the conflict between this article and property rights. One member argued that the property left behind by migrants was treated as ‘evacuee property’ under the law. Upon a person’s return and subsequent acquisition of Indian citizenship, how will their property claims be settled?
A member from the Drafting Committee clarified that there was no relationship between citizenship and property rights either in international or domestic law. He noted: ‘Nationality or citizenship has nothing to do with the law of property’.
The Assembly adopted this article without any amendments on 12 August 1949.