The Gauhati High Court has 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.
A division bench comprising of Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Soumitra Saikia was dealing with a petition challenging the opinion passed by Foreigners Tribunal dated 29 November 2019 wherein it was found that the petitioner was not successful in proving her citizenship as she had illegally entered India after 24 March, 1971.
The opinion was rendered while answering a reference by the Superintendent of Police on the basis of an enquiry, claiming that the petitioner and her family members were foreigners who had come into Assam after January 1, 1966 and before 25 March, 1971.
Observing that the opinion formed by the Foreigners Tribunal went beyond the scope of its jurisdiction, the Court ordered thus:
"The Tribunal cannot suo motu assume jurisdiction to give an opinion which is not sought. No opinion was sought from the Tribunal as to whether the petitioner entered India after 24.03.1971 or not."
Setting aside the impugned opinion as being illegal, the Court went ahead to observe thus:
"It is seen that though the reference was made by the Superintendent of Police (Border), Baksa for an opinion of the Foreigners' Tribunal, that the petitioner is an illegal immigrant who entered India between 01.01.1966 and 25.03.1971, the Tribunal went beyond the reference and rendered its opinion that the petitioner and her family members are illegal immigrants who entered India after 25.03.1971, which is clearly impermissible in law."
Accordingly, the matter was remanded back to the Tribunal for a fresh decision regarding the reference made by the Superintendent of Police.
"It is needless to say that in the event, the Foreigners' Tribunal answers the reference in affirmative, the petitioner will be entitled to the benefits of registration under Sub-section 3 of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1995 read with Rule 19 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009," the Court said while disposing of the petition.
Title: GOLAPI BEGUM v. UNION OF INDIA AND 5 ORS