The Gauhati High Court has observed that proof beyond all reasonable doubt is not needed in Foreigners Tribunal for establishing citizenship.
The Court held so while allowing a writ petition filed by 65-year old Idrish Ali to set aside an order passed by Foreigners Tribunal Jorhat which declared him to be a foreigner.
Before the Tribunal, the petitioner had produced 11 documents, including the voters lists of 1985 and 1989 which had contained his name. The Tribunal discarded these documents, observing that the petitioner was not included in the voters list of 1974 and 1975. Hence, the Tribunal held that he could not establish linkage prior to 1971.
In the HC, a division bench comprising Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyoti Saikia criticized the approach of the Tribunal. The HC observed that strict rules of evidence are not applicable to Foreigners Tribunal.
"The Tribunal is established for quick disposal of the matters sent to it. Unlike a regular Court, the laws of evidence are not strictly applicable in a Tribunal", the bench observed.
The Court referred to the differences between Tribunals and Courts explained by the Supreme Court in the decision Union of India Vs. R. Gandhi.
"Reverting to the case in hand, the strict rules of evidence are not applicable in a tribunal. Nothing is required to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt", the Court observed.
The Court proceeded to hold that the observations of the Tribunal pertaining to voters lists was "perverse" and cannot be sustained.
While asking the Tribunal to take a fresh decision on merits, the HC also ordered that Idrish Ali, who was kept in Jorhat Detention camp, should be produced before the Tribunal on the next hearing date. The Court added that he would be at liberty to apply for bail before the Tribunal on his production.
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