Gauhati High Court: The Division Bench comprising of N. Kotiswar Singh and Somitra Saikia, JJ., heard the instant petition against the ex-parte order passed by the Foreigners Tribunal by which the petitioner was declared an illegal migrant of post-1971 stream. The Bench remarked,
“By virtue of citizenship, one becomes a member of a sovereign country and becomes entitled to various rights and privileges granted by law in the country and, as such, if any question arises about citizenship of a person…the same should be adjudicated as far as possible on the basis of merit and on hearing the person concerned.”
Though notice was served, according to the petitioner, upon receipt of notice from the Foreigners Tribunal, her son appeared on her behalf without her knowledge. But unfortunately, the petitioner’s son neglected to appear before the Tribunal on various
dates fixed by the Tribunal resulting in passing of the ex-parte order. The contention of the petitioner was that the Tribunal passed the order without hearing the petitioner which had deprived her of her citizenship.
The Bench opined that citizenship is one of the most important rights of a person. By virtue of citizenship, one becomes a member of a sovereign country and becomes entitled to various rights and privileges granted by law in the country and, as such, if any question arises about citizenship of a person, the same should be adjudicated on the basis of merit and on hearing the person concerned. In view of above, the impugned order was set aside and the matter was remanded to the Foreigners Tribunal for reconsideration of the issue as to whether the petitioner is a foreigner. Further, the petitioner was directed to ensure her presence before the aforesaid Foreigners Tribunal.
Additionally, after observing that the petitioner’s citizenship was under cloud as the petitioner had already been declared a foreigner, the petitioner was directed to appear before the Superintendent of Police (Border), within 15 days and furnish a bail bond of Rs.5000 with one local surety of the like amount. The authority concerned was directed to allow the petitioner to have remained on bail.
The Superintendent of Police (Border) was granted liberty to obtain necessary information and documentation along with biometric details as required under the rules from the petitioner for securing her presence. However, the Court imposed restriction on the petitioner from leaving the State without giving details of the place of destination and her place of stay to the Superintendent of Police.[Rahima Khatun v. Union of India, WP(C) No. 8284 of 2019, decided on 08-04-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Adv. P. N. Goswami and Adv. D. Gogoi
For the Respondents: Sr. Adv. P. S. Bhattacharjee, Special Counsel J. Payeng, Adv. B. Das and Standing Counsel P. S. Lahkar