Supreme Court: Deciding the conflict between sub-paragraph (2) to paragraph 3 and paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the 3-judge vacation bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ, held,

“Paragraph 8 does not envisage and provide for a second round of litigation before the same authority i.e. the Foreigners Tribunal constituted under the 1964 Order on and after preparation of the final list. Provisions of paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the 2003 Rules will apply when there has not been an earlier adjudication and decision by the Foreigners Tribunal.”

  • Paragraph 3 deals with the preparation of consolidated list of original inhabitants of Assam, their children and descendants if their citizenship is ascertained beyond reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of the Registering Authority.
  • Paragraph 8 provides for a right of appeal to the person who had filed objections and is not satisfied with the outcome of the decision under the final list published under paragraph 7. Such persons may prefer an appeal before the designated Tribunal constituted under the 1964 Order within a period of sixty days and on disposal of appeal by the Tribunal, such persons can accordingly be included or deleted from the National Register of Indian Citizens in the State of Assam.
  • Paragraph 8, therefore, makes the Foreigners Tribunal under the 1964 Order as the appellate forum to decide claims and objections under paragraph 7 of the Schedule.

The Court held that the person concerned should be permitted to double-dip and be entitled to a second round of litigation before the Foreigners Tribunal notwithstanding the earlier opinion expressed by the Foreigners Tribunal is far-fetched, and completely unacceptable.

It said that where the issue and question of nationality has already been determined under the 1964 Order, an appeal would not be maintainable under paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the 2003 Rules. The determination would be final and binding on the Registering Authority under the Schedule and the Local Registrar.

The Court also held,

“Any order passed in case of close family members, subsequent to adjudication order determining the citizenship status of a person, would necessarily be a material evidence which can be duly taken note of and considered while deciding a writ petition or a review application.”

It was held that in a given case, the person aggrieved would have liberty to invoke writ jurisdiction, or if necessary, review jurisdiction before the High Court or this Court to ensure that no injustice is done.

[Abdul Kuddus v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 733, decided on 17.05.2019]

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