Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Indian Constitution [Paper-II]: Indian Constitution and its salient features
Why in News?
Indian government has revoked author Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India card.
- An Overseas Citizen of India, or OCI, is a category introduced by the government in 2005.
- Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain categories as specified in the Citizenship Act, 1955 are eligible for being OCI cardholders.
- Some of the benefits for PIO and OCI cardholders were different until 2015, when the government merged these two categories.
Who is an OCI?
- Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
- According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
- This was the ground cited by the government in revoking the OCI card granted to Taseer, whose father was a Pakistani national.
Benefits for OCI cardholders
- OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times and get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India.
- They are exempted from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) no matter how long their stay.
- If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
- At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
- OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights.
- They can also apply for a driver’s license and PAN card.
- However, OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government job and purchase agricultural or farm land.
- They cannot run for public office either, nor can they travel to restricted areas without government permission.