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The Bench based its rulings on the law laid down in a 2016 Gauhati High Court ruling.
The High Court of Gauhati recently reiterated that PAN Card, bank documents, Voter ID and land revenue paying receipts are not proof of citizenship. [Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun v. The Union of India and ors. and Munindra Biswas v. Union of India and ors].
Two orders to this effect were passed by the Bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyoti Saikia last week, while upholding Foreigners’ Tribunal orders.
In the case of Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun v. The Union of India and ors., the petitioner was asked to prove her citizenship following a reference by a Superintendent of Police. The Foreigners Tribunal at Baksa, Tamulpur, issued notice. However, the Tribunal was not convinced of her linkage to her projected parents and brothers.
Following a writ petition challenging the ruling, the High Court affirmed the Tribunal's findings. The Bench reiterated that certificates issued by the village Gaon Bura would not prove citizenship, neither would land revenue payment receipts.
Notably, it also relied on the 2016 Gauhati High Court ruling in Md. Babul Islam v. Union of India to hold that PAN Card is also not acceptable proof of citizenship.
The same case of Md. Babul Islam was cited by the Bench to affirm another ruling of Foreigners’ Tribunal which found a man to be a foreigner of the post 1971 stream.
In this case, Munindra Biswas v. Union of India and ors., the petitioner had failed to convince the Tribunal that his parents had entered Assam before January 1966.
The High Court did not find any grounds to interfere with the Tribunal ruling, while also observing that Electoral Photo Identity Card (Voter ID) is not proof of citizenship in view of the Md. Babul Islam ruling.
The High Court also added that there was no error on the Tribunal’s part in declining to rely on sale deeds produced by the petitioner, observing that sale deeds are private documents which must be proved before they can be relied on.
The Court proceeded to dismiss the petition, also noting that the petitioner had failed to file any voters’ lists prior to 1997 in order to prove he had been staying in Assam before 1971.
In both matters, the High Court makes note that it is only examining whether the Tribunal had committed any perversity in passing its rulings.
In the Munindra Biswas, the Bench has also commented on the restricted scope of interference, as far as the High Court is concerned, in such cases. The order records,
“The power of the Writ Court exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is supervisory only, not appellate/reviewing. The opinion of the Tribunal is based on facts. As a Writ Court we would not have gone into evidence. We just wanted reassure ourselves and we find that there is no perversity in the decision of the Tribunal. Hence, we find that this writ petition is devoid of merit. It stands dismissed and disposed of accordingly. No costs.”
[Read the Order in Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun v. The Union of India and ors.]
[Read the Order in Munindra Biswas v. Union of India and ors.]