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SC Orders Release Of Migrant Woman On Bail As State Reports That Her Relatives Are Indian Citizens [Read Order]

The Supreme Court has granted bail to a woman who was earlier found to be ‘illegal migrant’ concurrently by the Foreigner’s Tribunal and the Gauhati High court.

The Court allowed Bail to the petitioner after the enquiry conducted by Superintendent of the Police, Barpeta revealed that the five brothers, parents and husband of the petitioner are Indian citizens. The husband and all the brothers produced Electoral Photo Identity Card and connected documents to prove their citizenship before the enquiry officer.

The bench comprising of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul directed the state to release Sofiya on self-bond. It also allowed the state to conduct a further full-fledged enquiry in this regard.

While considering plea of a woman who is to be deported having found that she is an illegal migrant, the Supreme Court posed three questions to the state:

  • Is it true that five brothers of the petitioner are citizens of India?
  • Is it true that the husband of the petitioner is a citizen of India?
  • Is it true that father and mother of the petitioner are citizens of India?

 The Court considered the report filed by the state answering these queries.

The enquiry, the state in its affidavit said, had proceeded on the basis that the inter se relation between the petitioner and her alleged relatives is already established and only sought to verify the citizenship status of the projected relatives.

 “However, the High court and Tribunal below have concurrently held that the petitioner has failed to establish her linkage/lineage from her projected parents and in the Courts below she did not even aver that she had any siblings”, the Deputy Secretary, who filed on behalf of the state said in his affidavit. The state also requested the court to grant liberty to conduct a comprehensive inquiry in this regard. It also reiterated its stand that Sofiya is an illegal migrant and contended that she could not be given the opportunity to bring in new evidence, in the proceedings before the Supreme court.

Background

Musstt. Sofiya khatun had approached the Apex court through Advocate Anas Tanwir after her challenge against Foreigners’ Tribunal order that had declared her a foreigner who had illegally entered into India (Assam) after 25.03.1971.

After hearing Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde the bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has posted the matter on 5th September.

The Foreigners’ Tribunal had rejected Sofiya’s claim on the ground that her parents’ and grandfather’s name is different in every exhibit she had produced.  It was also noted that she did not file any petition before the concerned authority for the correction of the name of his father, mother and grandfather.

While dismissing the Writ petition challenging this order, the Gauhati High court upheld the Tribunal order, and further noted non disclosure of date or year of birth.

It observed: “From the written statement, it is evident that the petitioner did not disclose about her date or year of birth. She also did not disclose about her place of birth. Grandmother’s name, as well as names of maternal grandfather and grandmother, were not disclosed. She also did not disclose about the names of her brothers’ and sisters’ as well as the date or year of her marriage. Moreover, she was silent regarding her children after her marriage to Fulbar Hussain. Thus, there was omission to mention the above which were material facts specifically within her knowledge. It is essential that when one’s nationality is questioned, such material facts are required to be placed on record by the questioned individual at the first instance itself i.e., in the written statement. Failure to do so would be a vital omission rendering the version of the proceedee highly questionable. She repeated the same thing in her evidence-in-chief by way of affidavit wherein, however, she disclosed her age as 47 years as on 25.07.2016 when the affidavit was sworn. This would mean that petitioner was born sometime in the year 1969.”

It seems that neither the Tribunal nor the High court pondered about the claim that her parents, brothers, and husband are citizens of India.

Read the Order Here

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