In the case of Democratic Alliance v. Minister of Home Affairs The case centres on the constitutionality of Section 6(1)(a) of the South Africa Citizenship Act, which states that adult citizens who voluntarily take up citizenship in another nation without first securing ministerial approval to retain the citizenship will “automatically” lose their South African citizenship. The petitioner claimed that the clause violates fundamental rights and is arbitrary and unreasonable. The Respondents argued that the Constitution permits Parliament to establish such measures and that the provision was intended to fulfil a legitimate governmental objective, which is to control the acquisition and loss of citizenship.
- whether the Constitution is violated by Section 6(1)(a) of the Act
- Whether the contested Section violates any Bill of Rights provision
Conclusion of the court
The South African Citizenship Act, 1995, Section 6(1)(a), was unanimously overturned by the Five Judges Bench, which consisted of Justice Zondi, Justice Schippers, Justice Matojane, Justice Kathreeesetiloane, and Justice Unterhalter. The judges emphasised the significance of upholding the right to citizenship in order to avoid detrimental effects on citizens’ quality of life.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court had failed to adequately explain why the State might deprive someone of their citizenship just because they had gained citizenship in another nation. This is especially true if the Parliament does not have any policies that are antagonistic to dual citizenship. The High Court’s justification for the supply servers being a legitimate government activity was also dismissed. It said that the “regulation of acquisition and loss of citizenship” is the Act’s general role and does not serve as the government’s intended goal in imposing the aforementioned restriction on the right to citizenship. Rejecting the respondent’s claims that citizens are free to apply to the relevant minister for retention of citizenship, the court found that this amounted to giving the minister arbitrary discretionary authority and only serves to make the provision more illogical.
The Court said that the Constitution forbids the denial of citizenship that would result from actions other than the renunciation of citizenship in accordance with the Act. As a result, the Court declared Section 6(1)(a) of the Act to be invalid based on the aforementioned analysis. The document further stated that citizens who lost their citizenship as a result of the application of the clause are not considered to have done so.