A Conference was held on October 9th and 10th, 1954 in New Delhi, to consider certain problems relating to persons of Indian origin
resident in Ceylon. The Conference was attended by a delegation from Ceylon led by the Prime Minister of Ceylon and a delegation
led by the Prime Minister of India. The Conference discussed their problems fully and frankly, and in a spirit of friendly and cooperative
endeavour to overcome the difficulties that had arisen.
2. There was a basic difference of opinion between the two delegations in regard to the status of people of Indian origin in Ceylon.
The Ceylon Delegation stated that it has always been the position of Ceylon, as it still is, that such persons continue to be citizens
or nationals of India unless and until they are accepted as Ceylon citizens. The Ceylon Delegation could not therefore accept the
position that any of these persons are stateless. The Indian Delegation stated that only those persons of Indian origin who are already
in possession of Indian passports and passes, or who have been registered at the Indian High Commission under Article 8 of the Constitution
of India are Indian citizens. Other persons of Indian origin who are not either Ceylon citizens or Indian citizens are therefore
at present statless. It was further stated that there could be no automatic conferment of Indian nationality on persons belonging
to this category.
3. The Conference also considered the Indo-Ceylon Agreement of January 18, 1954 and the misunderstandings that had arisen in regard
to its implementation. In that Agreement it was provided that the registration of citizens under the Indian and Pakistani (Citizenship)
Act would be expedited, and every endeavour would be made to complete the disposal of pending applications within two years. It was
further stated that in regard to persons not so registered it would be open to them to register themselves as Indian citizens, if
they so chose, at the office of the Indian High Commissioner in Ceylon in accordance with the.provisions of Article 8 of the Constitution
of India. It was further provided that the Government of India would offer administrative and similar facilities to all persons of
Indian origin to register themselves as Indian citizens under the Constitution of India, if they so chose, and would also give publicity
to the availability of such facilities.
4. While these two processes of registration have continued, the pace of such registration has been slow and certain difficulties
have arisen. Complaints have been made by both sides about certain procedures which come in the way of full implementation of the
Agreement and have created misunderstandings.
5. As there appeared to be a basic difference in the approach of the two countries to the problem of the status of persons of Indian
origin resident in Ceylon, it was decided that the practical course was to recognise this difference and to proceed as rapidly as
possible with the two processes of registration as Ceylon citizens or as Indian citizens, and thus to reduce the number of these
persons who at present were not accepted either as Ceylon citizens or as Indian citizens. In this way the number of such persons
would be progressively reduced and would be more amenable to further consideration at a later stage. It was recognised by both Governments
that it was undesirable to have a large group of persons who could not be accepted as citizens of either country. It was agreed,
therefore, that these processes of registration should be expedited. 6. It was agreed that in regard to those persons who are not
registered as Ceylon citizens, it would be open to them to register themselves as Indian citizens if they so chose. The Indian High
Commissioner will entertain all applications, made to him for registration as Indian citizens under Article 8 of the Constitution
of India, and will grant every facility for this purpose, subject to satisfying himself that the applicants have the prescribed qualifications
under the Indian law. Applications will not be refused on the ground that an applicant had earlier applied to the authorities in
Ceylon for registration as a citizen under the law of Ceylon. 7. The procedure for registration as citizens of Ceylon will be simplified
as far as is possible, within the terms of the law, so as to complete, as far as may be practicable, the disposal of applications
within the time mentioned in the Indo-Ceylon Agreement of 1954. The Ceylon Government will examine, with a view to their withdrawal,
any executive instructions of a restrictive nature, issued by the Ceylon authorities, which result in the rejection of such applications
on purely technical grounds. 8. The Ceylon Government will resume the practice of issuing Identity Certificates for travel abroad
to all persons of Indian origin resident in Ceylon whose applications for Ceylon citizenship are pending. The isssue of such certificates
will be governed by the rules and conditions which apply to Ceylon citizens. Exchange facilities for remittances of money out of
Ceylon by such persons will be the same as those available to Ceylon citizens. The Indian High Commissioner will issue Identity Certificates
for purposes of travel to persons of Indian origin whose applications for registration as Indian citizens are pending before him.
The Indian authorities will provide travel facilities and the Ceylon Government will give such persons remittance facilities, as
9. The Governments of the two countries earnestly hope that the steps mentioned above will in the time contemplated, i.e., 2 years
resolve to a substantial degree the problem of persons of Indian origin resident in Ceylon by their registration either as Ceylon
citizens or as Indian citizens. At the end of this period and when the registrations under the Indian and Pakistani (Citizenship)
Act are completed, the position will be reviewed with a view to deciding what further steps may be needed to deal with the problems
of the residue that may be left. The Ceylon Government for its part states that it will in addition have to consider what steps may
be necessary at that stage to safeguard the interests of its own citizens in regard to such matters as employment. It was stated
on behalf of the Government of India that while every effort should be made to promote employment, as stated by the Ceylon Government,
this should not involve, in their opinion, any coercion or victimization of those persons of Indian origin who may still remain unregistered
either as Ceylon citizens or Indian citizens. The measure of success attained in dealing with this problem will depend largely on
a friendly and co-operative approach of all parties and every effort should be made to encourage this friendly approach.
10. It was stated on behalf of the Ceylon Government that it intends in the meanwhile to introduce a scheme enabling persons of Indian
origin now in employment in Ceylon who may hereafter acquire Indian citizenship to continue in such employment till the age of 55
years, when they may be required to leave the country, and that it has under consideration a scheme for the payment, under such conditions
as may be prescribed, of gratuities to such persons when they leave the country. Such persons will also be given social and medical
benefits no less favourable than those which may be provided for workers of the same category who are Ceylon citizens.
11. The two Governments will exchange information regarding lists of registration etc. from time to time to ensure effective co-operation
in carrying out these arrangements.