Ceylon Citizenship Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948 was a controversial law passed by the Ceylon Parliament which denied citizenship to 11% of the population.

Background[edit]

During the 19th and early 20th centuries the British rulers of Ceylon recruited large numbers of South Indians, primarily Indian Tamils, to work in tea, coffee, rubber and coconut plantations in Ceylon. By 1946 their numbers had grown to 780,000, 11.7% of the population. Their presence was resented by Sinhalese nationalists. There was real fear amongst the Indian Tamils that once Ceylon obtained independence, the Sinhalese, who constituted 69.4% of the population, would take steps to remove them from the country.

The Bill[edit]

Shortly after independence on 4 February 1948 the new Sinhalese dominated government of Ceylon introduced the Ceylon Citizenship Bill before Parliament. The outward purpose of the Bill was to provide means of obtaining citizenship, but its real purpose was to discriminate against the Indian Tamils by denying them citizenship.[1] The Bill stipulated that anyone wishing to obtain citizenship had to prove that their father was born in Ceylon i.e. that they were at least third generation immigrants. This was an impossible task for most Indian Tamils. Few were at least third generation immigrants because they tended to return to India to give birth.[1] Those who were at least third-generation immigrants rarely had the necessary documents because they rarely registered births.[1] Therefore, they could not prove the requirements for citizenship.

The Bill was opposed fiercely in Parliament by the Ceylon Indian Congress, which represented the Indian Tamils, and the Sinhalese leftist parties. The bill was also opposed by the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, which represented the Sri Lankan Tamils, including its leader G.G. Ponnambalam.[2]

The Bill was passed by Parliament on 20 August 1948 and became law on 15 November 1948, just 285 days after Ceylon had gained independence from Britain. Only about 5,000 Indian Tamils qualified for citizenship. More than 700,000 people, about 11% of the population, were denied citizenship and made stateless.[3]

The Act[edit]

Part I Citizenship of Ceylon[edit]

  • 1. This Act may be cited as the Citizenship Act.
  • 2.
(1) With effect from the appointed date, there shall be a status to be known as "the status of a citizen of Ceylon".
(2) A person shall be or become entitled to the status of a citizen of Ceylon in one of the following ways only:-
(a) by right of descent as provided by this Act;
(b) by virtue registration as provided by this Act or by any other Act authorising the grant of such status by registration in any special case of a specified description. .
(3) Every person who is possessed of the aforesaid status is hereinafter referred to as a "citizen of Ceylon". In any context in which a distinction is drawn according as that status is based or registration, a citizen of Ceylon is referred to as " citizen by descent " or " citizen by registration "; and the status of such citizen is in the like context referred to as " citizenship by descent " or " citizenship by registration ".
  • 3. A citizen of Ceylon may, for any purpose in Ceylon, describe his nationality by the use of the expression "Citizen of Ceylon".

Part II Citizenship by Descent[edit]

  • 4.
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born in Ceylon before the appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent, if -
(a) his father was born in Ceylon, or
(b) his paternal grandfather and paternal great grandfather were born in Ceylon.
(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born outside Ceylon before the appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent, if -
(a) his father and paternal grandfather were born in Ceylon, or
(b) his paternal grandfather and paternal great grandfather were born in Ceylon.
  • 5.
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born in Ceylon on or after the appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent if at the time of his birth his father is a citizen of Ceylon.
(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person born outside Ceylon on or after the appointed date shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent if at the time of his birth his father is a citizen of Ceylon and if, within one year from the date of birth, or within such further period as the Minister may for good cause allow, the birth is registered in the prescribed manner –
(a) at the office of a consular officer of Ceylon in the country of birth, or
(b) at the office of the Minister in Ceylon.
  • 6. Upon application made in that behalf in the prescribed manner, the Minister may, in his discretion, grant, in the prescribed form, a certificate of citizenship of Ceylon by descent to a person with respect to whose status as a citizen of Ceylon by descent a doubt exists; and a certificate issued under this section to any person shall be conclusive evidence that that person was a citizen of Ceylon by descent on the date thereof, but I without prejudice to any evidence that he was such a citizen at an earlier date.
  • 7. Every person first found in Ceylon as a newly born deserted infant of unknown and unascertainable parentage shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent.
  • 8.
(1) Any person who ceases under section 19 or section 20 to be a citizen of Ceylon by descent may at any time thereafter make application to the Minister for a declaration that such person has resumed the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent; and the Minister may make the declaration for which the application is made
(a) if that person renounces citizenship of any other country of which he is a citizen, in accordance with the law in force in that behalf in that other country; and
(b) if that person is, and intends to continue to be, ordinarily resident in Ceylon.
(2) Where a declaration is made in relation to any . person under subsection (1), that person shall, with effect from such date as may be specified in the declaration, again have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent.
(3) Any person who makes or has made an application under subsection (1) may, in his application or by subsequent letter, make a request for the grant to any minor child of that person of the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent; and if in any such case a declaration under subsection (1) is made in relation to that person, each minor child specified in the declaration shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent.
(4) The Minister may refuse to make a declaration under subsection (1) in relation to any person on grounds of public policy; and such refusal shall be final and shall not be contested in any court, but without prejudice to the power of the Minister subsequently to make such a declaration in relation to that person.
(5) The Minister may in his discretion exempt any person from the requirements of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section, and make a declaration under that subsection notwithstanding that such person does not comply with the said requirements.
  • 9.
(1) Any reference to father, paternal grandfather, or paternal great grandfather in any of the provisions of this Part relating to citizenship by descent shall, in regard to a person born out of wedlock and not legitimated, be deemed to be a reference to mother, maternal grandfather, or maternal great grandfather respectively.
(2) A person shall be deemed, for the purposes of this section, to have been legitimated if his parents married each other subsequent to his birth.
  • 10. Any reference in this Part to the status or description of the father of a person at the time of that person's birth shall, in regard to a person born after the death of his father, be deemed to be a reference to the status or description of the father at the time of the father's death; and where that death occurred before, and the birth occurs on or after the appointed date, the status or description which would have been applicable to the father had he died on or after that date shall be deemed to be the status or description applicable to him at the time of his death.

Part III Citizenship By Registration[edit]

  • 11.
(1) This section shall apply to any applicant for registration as a citizen of Ceylon who has the following qualifications: -
(a) that the applicant is of full age and of sound mind;
(b) that the applicant –
(i) is a person whose mother is or was a citizen of Ceylon by descent or would have been a citizen of Ceylon by descent if she had been alive on the appointed date, and who, being married, has been resident in Ceylon throughout a period of seven years immediately preceding the date of the application' or, being unmarried, has been resident in Ceylon throughout a period of ten years immediately preceding the date of the application, or
(ii) is a person, whose father was a citizen of Ceylon by descent, and who would have been a citizen of Ceylon under subsection (2) of section 5 if his birth had been registered in accordance with the provisions of that subsection, or
(iii) is a person whose father, having been a citizen of Ceylon by descent whether at or before the time of the birth of that person, ceased under section 20 to be a citizen of Ceylon; and
(c) that the applicant is, and intends to continue to be, ordinarily resident in Ceylon.
(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, a person to whom this section applies shall –
(a) if he has the qualification set out in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (b) of subsection (l) of this section, registered as a citizen of Ceylon on his making application in that behalf to the Minister in the prescribed manner, or
(b) if he has the qualification set out in subparagraph (ii) or sub-paragraph (iii) of the aforesaid paragraph (b), be so registered on his making such application, unless the Minister decides to disallow such application on grounds of public policy.
(3) The Minister's refusal, under subsection (2) (b) of this section, to allow the application of any person for registration as a citizen of Ceylon shall be final and shall not be contested in any court.
  • 12.
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Part, no person who is the spouse, or the widow or widower, of a citizen of Ceylon by descent or registration, shall be registered as a citizen of Ceylon under this Act, except in accordance with the succeeding provisions of this section.
(2) A person who desires to be registered as a citizen of Ceylon under this section shall send an application in the prescribed form and manner to the prescribed officer.
(3) After the receipt of the application under subsection (2), the prescribed officer shall send the application to the Minister, if he is satisfied that the applicant has the following qualifications: -
(a) that the applicant has the qualifications specified in paragraphs (a) and (c) of subsection (l) of section 11,
(b) that the applicant has been resident in Ceylon throughout a period of one year immediately preceding the date of the application of such applicant; and
(i) that the applicant is the spouse, or the widow or widower, of a citizen of Ceylon by descent or registration.
(3) The Minister's refusal under this section to allow the application of any person for registration as a citizen of Ceylon shall be final and shall not be contested in any court.
  • 14.
(1) Where an applicant for registration as a citizen of Ceylon has any minor child, he may in his application or by subsequent letter make a request for the inclusion of the name of that child in the certificate of registration which may be granted to him under this Part.
(2) Where a request as aforesaid is made by an applicant under section 11 or section 12 or section 13, the Minister may subject to the other provisions of this Part, comply with the request if the applicant is registered as a citizen of Ceylon.
  • 15.
(1) Save as provided in section 11, a person who has ceased to be a citizen of Ceylon shall not be granted citizenship by registration.
(2) A person who is a citizen of any country other than Ceylon under any law in force in that country shall not be granted citizenship by registration unless he renounces citizenship of that country in accordance with that law.
(3) The Minister may in his discretion exempt any person from the provisions of subsection (2) of this section; and nothing in that subsection shall prevent the registration as a citizen of Ceylon of any person so exempted.
  • 16. There shall be kept and maintained, in the prescribed form, a register of persons who are granted citizenship by registration.
  • 17. The Minister shall grant, in the prescribed form, a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ceylon to every person who is registered under section 11 or section 12 or section 13 and, where he decides to comply with a request made by that person under section 14, shall include in the certificate the name of every minor child to whom the request relates.
  • 18.
(1) A British subject to whom a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ceylon is granted shall, on subscribing the prescribed oath or affirmation or citizenship, have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by registration as from the date of that certificate.
(2) An alien to whom a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ceylon is granted shall, on subscribing the prescribed oath or affirmation of allegiance and the prescribed oath or affirmation of citizenship, have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by registration as from the date of that certificate.
(3) A minor child whose name is included in a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ceylon shall have the status of a citizen of Ceylon by registration as from the date of that certificate.

Part IV Loss of Citizenship[edit]

  • 19. If a citizen of Ceylon of full age and of sound mind makes a declaration of renunciation of citizenship of Ceylon in the prescribed manner, the Minister shall cause the declaration to be registered; and, upon registration thereof, the declarant shall cease to be a citizen of Ceylon:
(1) Provided however that the Minister may withhold registration of such declaration if it is made during the continuance of any war in which Ceylon is engaged and if, by the operation of any law enacted in consequence of that war, the declarant is deemed for the time being to be an enemy.
  • 20.
(1) Where a person born before the appointed date is a citizen of Ceylon by descent and is also on that date a citizen of any other country, that person shall –
(a) on the 31st of December, 1952, or
(b) on the day on which he attains the age of twenty-two years,
whichever day is in his case the later, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.

"(2) Where a person is a citizen of Ceylon by descent and that person, by operation of law, is at the time of his birth or becomes thereafter, also a citizen of any other country, that person shall –

(a) on the 31st day of December, 1952, or
(b) on the day immediately succeeding the date of the expiration of a period of twelve months from the date on which he so becomes a citizen of that other country, or
(c) on the day on which he attains the age of twenty two years,
whichever day is in his case the latest, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.
(3) A person who, under subsection (2) of section 5 is a citizen of Ceylon by descent but whose father is or was a citizen of Ceylon by registration, shall, on the day on which he attains the age of twenty-two years, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless before that day he transmits to the Minister in the prescribed manner and form a declaration of retention of citizenship of Ceylon
(4) In the case of any person to whom the provisions of any of the preceding subsections apply, the Minister may in his discretion direct that those provisions shall apply in that case subject to the modification that the reference therein to the age of twenty-two years shall be construed as a reference to such higher age as may be specified in the direction.
(5) A person who is a citizen of Ceylon by descent shall cease to be a citizen of Ceylon if he voluntarily becomes a citizen of any other country.
(6) Where a person who, having been exempted from the requirements of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 8, resumes the status of a citizen of Ceylon by descent by virtue of a declaration under that subsection, that person shall, on the day immediately succeeding the date of the expiration of a period of three months (or such longer period as the Minister may for good cause allow) from the date of the declaration, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless he earlier complies with the requirements of the aforesaid paragraph (a).
  • 21.
(1) A person who is a citizen of Ceylon by registration shall cease to be a citizen of Ceylon if he voluntarily becomes a citizen of any other country.
(2) Where a person who is registered as a citizen of Ceylon thereafter becomes, by operation of law, also a citizen of any other country, that person shall –
(a) on the day immediately succeeding tile date of the expiration of a period of three months (or such longer period as the Minister may for good cause allow) from the date on which he so becomes a citizen of that other country, or
(b) on the day on which he attains the age of twenty-two years,
whichever day is in his case the later, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.
(3) Where any person -
(a) who having been exempted from the provisions of subsection (2) of section 15, is registered under this Act as a citizen of Ceylon, or
(b) who is registered under the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act as a citizen of Ceylon, continues after such registration to be a citizen of any other country, that person shall -
(i) on the day immediately succeeding the date of the expiration of a period of three months (or such longer period as the Minister may fur good cause allow) from the date of his registration as a citizen of Ceylon, or
(ii) on the day on which he attains the age of twenty-two years,
whichever day is in his case the later, cease to be a citizen of Ceylon, unless before that day he renounces citizenship of that other country in accordance with the law therein in force in that behalf and notifies such renunciation to a prescribed officer.
  • 22. In any case where any person purports to renounce citizenship of any country for the purpose of acquiring, retaining or resuming, under any provision of this Act, the status of a citizen of Ceylon, and it is found at any time that the renunciation was not in accordance with or not effective under the law in force in that behalf in such other country, that person shall be deemed never to have acquired, retained or resumed, under that provision, the status of a citizen of Ceylon; and if the Minister makes a declaration to that effect in any such case, the declaration shall be final and shall not be contested in any court.
  • 23. A person who is a citizen by registration shall cease to be a citizen of Ceylon if that person resides outside Ceylon for five consecutive years or more, exclusive of any period during which that person—
(a) is employed abroad as an officer in the service of the Government of Ceylon, or
(b) abroad as a representative of the Government of Ceylon, or
(c) being the spouse or minor child of a citizen of Ceylon who is abroad in any of the capacities specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, resides abroad with that citizen, or
(d) resides abroad on a holiday or for reasons of health, or
(e) is a student at an educational institution abroad, or
(f) resides abroad with a spouse who is a citizen of Ceylon by descent, ox
(g) is abroad for any prescribed purpose.
  • 24.
(1) Where the Minister is satisfied that a person who is a citizen of Ceylon by registration—
(a) has been convicted of an offence under this Act; or
(b) has been convicted of any offence under Chapter VI of the Penal Code; or
(c) was registered as a citizen of Ceylon by means of fraud, false representation, or the concealment of material circumstances or by mistake; or
(d) has, within five years after the date of registration as a citizen of Ceylon, been sentenced in any court to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or more; or
(e) has, since the date of his becoming a citizen of Ceylon by registration, been for a period of not less than two years ordinarily resident in a foreign country of which he was a national or citizen at any time prior to that date, and has not maintained a substantial connection with Ceylon; or
(f) has taken an oath or affirmation of, or made a declaration of, allegiance to a foreign country; or
(g) has so conducted himself that his continuance as a citizen of Ceylon is detrimental to the interests of Ceylon,
the Minister may by order declare that such person shall cease to be such a citizen, and thereupon the person in respect of whom the order is made shall cease to be a citizen of Ceylon by registration.
(2) Before the Minister makes any order in relation to a person to whom paragraph (g) of subsection (1) of this section applies, he shall refer that person's case for inquiry by one or more persons appointed by him, with such qualifications as may be prescribed. The person or persons who have been authorised to make an inquiry under the preceding provisions of this section shall, as soon as the inquiry is completed, make a written report to the Minister. He shall not make any order under subsection (1) of this section without carefully considering such report.
(3) Where a person ceases to be a citizen of Ceylon under subsection (1) of this section, the Minister may by order direct that all or any of the persons specified in the following paragraphs shall cease to be citizens of Ceylon, and thereupon they shall cease to be citizens: -
(a) all or any of the minor children of such person who have been included in the certificate of registration issued to him at the time of his registration, and
(b) the spouse, widow or widower of such person, if such spouse, widow or widower was registered under this Act.

Part V Miscellaneous[edit]

  • 25. Any person who, for the purpose of procuring anything to be done or not to be done under this Act, makes any statement which he knows to be false in a material particular shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding three months.
  • 26. Every person to whom a certificate under this Act is granted shall, in respect of that certificate, pay, in the prescribed manner, a fee according to the prescribed rates.
  • 27.
(1) The Minister may make all such regulations as may be necessary for giving effect to the provisions of this Act, and in particular for prescribing any matter which is stated or required to be prescribed.
(2) No regulation made by the Minister shall have effect until it has received the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives and notification of such approval is published in the Gazette.
  • 28.
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires -
"alien" means a person who is not a British subject;
"appointed date" means the 15th day of November, 1948;
"British subject" has the same meaning as in the law of the United Kingdom;
"consular officer of Ceylon" includes an Ambassador, a High Commissioner, a Commissioner, a representative, or a Trade Commissioner' of Ceylon;
"minor child" means a person who has not attained the age of twenty-one years;
"prescribed" means prescribed by regulation made under this Act.
(2) For the purposes of this Act a person of full age is a person who has attained the age of twenty-one years.

Aftermath[edit]

In 1949 the Ceylon Parliament passed the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act No.3 of 1949 whose outward purpose, again, was to provide means of obtaining citizenship for the Indian Tamils. But in reality the conditions imposed by the Act were such that they discriminated against the Indian Tamils.[1] The Act granted citizenship to anyone who had 10 years of uninterrupted residence in Ceylon (7 years for married persons) and whose income was above the stipulated level. Again, this was an impossible task for most Indian Tamils. They had a habit of periodically returning to India, thereby interrupting their residence in Ceylon, and most could not meet the income qualification.[1] Only about 100,000 Indian Tamils qualified for citizenship under this Act.

Later in 1949 the Ceylon Parliament passed the Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Amendment Act No.48 of 1949 which stripped the Indian Tamils of their franchise. Seven of the 95 MPs elected at the 1947 general elections were Indian Tamils.[4] Indian Tamils influenced the result in 20 other constituencies, very often voting for the opposition Sinhalese leftist parties. None of the 95 MPs elected at the 1952 general elections were Indian Tamils.

On 18 January 1954 Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Ceylon Prime Minister John Kotelawala signed the Nehru-Kotelawala Pact under which India agreed to the repatriation of any Indian Tamil who wanted Indian citizenship. But India refused to automatically provide Indian citizenship to those who did not qualify for Ceylon citizenship.[1][5]

On 30 October 1964 Indian Prime Minister Lal Shastri and Ceylon Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike signed the Sirima-Shastri Pact (also known as the Indo-Ceylon Agreement) under which India agreed to the repatriation of 525,000 Indian Tamils. Another 300,000 would be offered Ceylon citizenship. The fate of the remaining 150,000 Indian Tamils would be decided later.[1][6]

On 28 June 1974 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Ceylon Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike signed the Sirimavo-Gandhi Pact under which India and Sri Lanka agreed to grant citizenship to the 150,000 Indian Tamils whose status was left unresolved by the Sirima-Shastri Pact.[1][7]

In 1982 India abrogated the Sirima-Shastri Pact and Sirimavo-Gandhi Pact. At this point 90,000 Indian Tamils who had been granted Indian citizenship were still in Sri Lanka and another 86,000 were in the process of applying for Indian citizenship.[1][8]

In 1988 the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the Grant of Citizenship to Stateless Persons Act which granted Sri Lankan citizenship to all Indian Tamils who hadn't applied for Indian citizenship under previous agreements.[1][9]

On 7 October 2003 the Sri Lankan Parliament unanimously passed the Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act No.35 of 2003 which granted Sri Lankan citizenship to all Indian Tamils who had been residing in Sri Lanka since October 1964 and their descendents. This amounted to 168,141 persons and included those who had been granted Indian citizenship under previous agreements but were still living in Sri Lanka, though they had to rescind their Indian citizenship.[1][10] All Indian Tamils living in Sri Lanka had finally been granted Sri Lankan citizenship, 55 years after independence.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Statelessness in Sri Lanka". UNHCR in Sri Lanka. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ Apparthuray Vinayagamoorthy (8 November 2003). "103rd Birth Anniversary today : G. G. Ponnambalam - Founder of ACTC". Daily News, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  3. ^ Ethnic Conflict of Sri Lanka: Time Line - From Independence to 1999, International Centre for Ethnic Studies
  4. ^ "Missed Opportunities and the Loss of Democracy". UTHR. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  5. ^ K T Rajasingham (17 November 2001). "SRI LANKA: THE UNTOLD STORY". Asia Times. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  6. ^ "29 October 1964". Peace and Conflict Timeline. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ "1974". Peace and Conflict Timeline. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "1982". Peace and Conflict Timeline. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "1988". Peace and Conflict Timeline. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "October 2003". Peace and Conflict Timeline. Retrieved 20 June 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Stateless Tamils’ long struggle bears fruit". TamilNet. 7 October 2003. Retrieved 20 June 2009.