The legality of dual citizenship in Bangladesh
Having dual citizenship has become a matter of concern for many citizens of Bangladesh due to the high interest in migrating to different countries of the world from Bangladesh. People from Bangladesh are moving towards the western countries to avail a higher standard of living and better opportunities for earning their livelihood. Therefore, they must have the scope for getting dual citizenship when they migrate to different countries because being a citizen of Bangladesh is a right they acquire at birth, which should not be given up lightly.
The Citizenship Act 1951 generally does not allow 'dual citizenship'. If a person is a citizen of Bangladesh and is at the same time, a citizen of another country, he shall, unless he makes a declaration in that other country renouncing his status as a citizen or national, shall cease to be a citizen of Bangladesh.
However, the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provision) Order 1972, (as amended in 1978) 1978, Bangladesh now permits dual citizenship under certain limited circumstances. Therefore, Bangladeshi-origin nationals of certain countries as specified by the government may apply to the government of Bangladesh for the reacquisition of Bangladeshi citizenship without having to renounce their existing citizenship of other countries.
Currently, Bangladeshi-origin citizens of UK, USA, Australia, Canada and certain European countries may apply for a 'Dual Nationality Certificate' and the government of Bangladesh through official gazette may notify any other country as an eligible country for this purpose. The final decision lies with the Government of Bangladesh in approving the status of dual citizenship.
To obtain dual citizenship, a person of Bangladeshi origin must follow some prescribed procedures as per the laws of Bangladesh. Those of Bangladeshi-origin, who are citizens of other foreign countries such as USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Europe etc. may apply for Dual Nationality Certificate. This certificate makes it legal to possess a Bangladeshi passport in addition to a foreign passport.
Those who are qualified for a Dual Nationality Certificate may apply for the certificate through a local consulate or embassy. They can have access to the prescribed form on the website of their residing country's Bangladeshi consulate or embassy. They would need to submit the following documents with the completed form and fees.
On receipt, the Consulate General, after necessary processing, forwards the application with supporting documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Dhaka, Bangladesh for subsequent action. After issuance, the Ministry of Home Affairs sends the certificates to the Consulate for delivery to the applicant. The Consulate informs the applicant when the certificates are received from Dhaka.
The second one is that those who are in Bangladesh, they can submit the application with all the documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka. The required documents and fees may vary depending on the country from which the applicant will apply.
The government or consulate to which the application for citizenship has been submitted may call for further information such as:
a) The place and date of birth of the applicant
b) When he acquired his present citizenship
c) His knowledge of Bengali language.
d) His qualifications
e) His income and its source
f) Particulars of his properties in Bangladesh
g) Particulars of the members of his family residing in Bangladesh etc.
The government may after being satisfied with the correctness of the information furnished by the applicant, grant citizenship of Bangladesh and issue a certificate of Citizenship.
As per Article 66 (2) (c) of the Constitution of Bangladesh, a person shall be disqualified for election for being, a member of Parliament who acquires the citizenship of, or affirms or acknowledges allegiance to, a foreign state.
Therefore, the Constitution of Bangladesh disqualifies a Bangladeshi citizen with citizenship of another state to become a Member of Parliament. The Citizenship Act 1951 did not provide for the acquisition of dual citizenship until it is allowed by way of amendment to the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provision) Order 1972 on 11.02.1978.
But the Constitution of Bangladesh was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 4th November 1972 and came into force on 16th December 1972 with the disqualification provision (Article 66 (2) (c)). No necessity of the constitutional amendment in respect of Article 66 (2) (c) of the constitution was felt in keeping with the spirit of the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provision) Order 1972, (as amended in 1978) 1978, which permits dual citizenship under certain limited circumstances.
Barrister Sabrina Zarin is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and partner at the FM Associates