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"Citizenship Being An Important Right Should Be Decided On Merits Rather Than By Default": Gauhati HC Sets Aside Ex Parte Order Declaring Woman As Foreigner

Nupur Thapliyal
29 July 2021 4:51 AM GMT
Citizenship Being An Important Right Should Be Decided On Merits Rather Than By Default: Gauhati HC Sets Aside Ex Parte Order Declaring Woman As Foreigner
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Observing that citizenship is an important right and should be decided on merits rather than by default, the Gauhati High Court has set aside an ex parte order passed by a Foreigners Tribunal declaring a woman as foreigner after she was unable to appear before the Tribunal for the reason of not getting proper legal advice.A division bench comprising of Justice N Kotiswar Singh and...

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Observing that citizenship is an important right and should be decided on merits rather than by default, the Gauhati High Court has set aside an ex parte order passed by a Foreigners Tribunal declaring a woman as foreigner after she was unable to appear before the Tribunal for the reason of not getting proper legal advice.

A division bench comprising of Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed thus:

"We are of the view that citizenship being a very important right of a person should ordinarily be decided on merit rather than by way of default as has happened in the present case and as such, under the circumstances as discussed above, we allow the petitioner to appear before the learned Tribunal again to prove her case that she is a citizen of this country and not a foreigner."

After the reference was made against one Sefali Rani Das, she had appeared before the Foreigners Tribunal after being duly served the notice. Written submissions along with relevant documents were also filed by her.

However, she claimed that due to improper legal advice and failure of her counsel to remain present before the Tribunal, an ex parte order was passed declaring her as foreigner by the Foreigners Tribunal vide order dated 19th September 2017. 

It was thus the petitioner's case that there was no willful negligence or disregard on her part as she had duly appeared and filed her written statement.

In view of the above, while allowing her to appear before the Tribunal again to prove her case that she is an Indian citizen and not a foreigner, the Court ordered thus:

"Consequently, the impugned order dated 19.09.2017 passed by the learned Member, Foreigners' Tribunal 6th, Silchar, Assam in F.T. 6th Case No.404/2015 is set aside. The petitioner will appear before the Foreigners' Tribunal within a period of 1(one) month from today."

The plea was disposed of accordingly.

Recently, the Court had ruled that the Foreigners Tribunal cannot suo moto assume the jurisdiction to give an opinion which is not sought while answering reference made to it regarding entry of a person, suspected to be a foreigner, into Assam.

Title: SMTI SEFALI RANI DAS v. UNION OF INDIA & ORS

Click Here To Read Order

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