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SC Restores Indian Citizenship To Assam Native Quashing Foreigner's Tribunal Order

Manu Sebastian
19 Feb 2019 10:58 AM GMT
SC Restores Indian Citizenship To Assam Native Quashing Foreigners Tribunal Order
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What can be the consequence of minor discrepancies in the name of one's grand father in documents? For Assam native Sirajul Hoque, it meant loss of his Indian citizenship.The fact that the name of his grandfather's name was shown as Keftullah instead of Kematullah in some documents led to the Foreigner's Tribunal declaring him a foreigner. Also, that his grandfather and father later lived...

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What can be the consequence of minor discrepancies in the name of one's grand father in documents? 

For Assam native Sirajul Hoque, it meant loss of his Indian citizenship.

The fact that the name of his grandfather's name was shown as Keftullah instead of Kematullah in some documents led to the Foreigner's Tribunal declaring him a foreigner. Also, that his grandfather and father later lived in different villages was an additional ground for Tribunal's conclusion. 

Though he petitioned the High Court against the Tribunal's declaration, it declined interference, adopting a highly technical approach. The High Court observed that material facts were not stated in his application. Faced with the loss of citizenship, and imminent deportation, he approached the Supreme Court as a last resort.

In a bold judgment, the Supreme Court  bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran, quashed the order of Foreigner's Tribunal, and declared Sirajul Hoque's citizenship.

The SC bench noticed that he had relied on several documents to support his claim, starting with a voters' list of his grandfather Kematullah in village Sotobashjani. However, in certain other documents, his grandfather's name was shown as Kefatullah, though with the same family name. But his father's name and great grandfather's name are shown in all documents with complete consistency. 

The bench also noticed that he was issued a PAN card by the Income Tax Department in 1981. He also had a photo identity card issued by the Election Commission, and his name was included in the voter's list.

Based on these, the Court expressed the view that it is not possible to state that Kematullah is not the same despite being named Kefatullah in some of the documents.

"the grandfather's identity, father's identity etc. has been established successfully by the appellant. Further, the mere fact that the father may later have gone to another village is no reason to doubt this document", held the judgment authored by Justice Nariman.

The order assumes great significance as Assam is raging with intense citizenship debate in view of the ongoing NRC process, and also the Citizenship Amendment Bill mooted by the Central Government proposing to legitimize the entry of non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31,2014.

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