A Foreigners’ Tribunal in Assam’s Karimganj district has recognised the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31, 2019 as the ‘final NRC’ while declaring a man to be an Indian citizen. However, the Registrar General of India (RGI) has yet to issue a notification to make Assam’s NRC a legal document.
The ruling came while the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) was hearing a case against one Bikram Singha of Jamirala village under Patharkandi police station in Karimganj district, whose name appeared in the NRC list.
Sishir Dey, member of the Foreigners’ Tribunal-II, Karimganj, said, “The National Identity Cards have yet to be issued to the Citizens whose names have been included in Final NRC. But there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC.”
The Assam police’s border branch of Karimganj district had filed a case in 2008 against Bikram Singha and marked him as ‘D-voter’ (doubtful voter). This case was later transferred from Karimganj town’s FT-I to the FT-II on September 8, 2017.
The man who was marked as a ‘D-voter’ was untraced until June 28 this year and appeared before the tribunal two months later, seeking time to return from Bengaluru where he was working.
Bikram Singha had produced before the FT-II, Karimganj several documents including land deed of 1968 in his grandfather’s name, relevant extract of electoral roll for the year 1970, and proof of his father Bharat Chandra Singha having been an Indian Air Force employee for 29 years since 1972.
He also furnished pension payment order in the name of his father, electoral roll of 1997, copy of NRC list, voter id card, Aadhaar card, admit card of HSSLC examination 1970 in his father’s name, and his CBSE secondary school examination passing certificate to prove his Indian citizenship.
Sishir Dey heard the case on September 1 and the prosecution lawyer argued that Bikram Singha had no document establishing that his family was living in India prior to 1966.
The prosecutor referred to the “White Paper on Foreigners’ Issue” published by the Assam government, which states, “Thus , those who crossed the international border without proper legal documents to come to Assam on or after March 25, 1971, are illegal migrants provided all those who came before this deadline became citizens through the legal process akin to naturalization.”
The section on Illegal Immigration further states, “It should be kept in mind, however, that the children born to these illegal immigrants may or may not be lawful citizens of India by birth. In this regard, the following provisions stated in Section 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1955 would apply : (i) A person born in India on or after 26th January, 1950, but before 1st July, 1987, is a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his/her parents.”
Dey observed that Bikram Singha’s documents pointed to his father and grandfather having been residents of Jamirala village under Patherkandi assembly constituency before 1968, although there were no documents to show they were residents in Assam prior to 1966 (year of first amendment to Citizenship Act).
“.final NRC has been published on 31-07-2019 which is available online in the official website of NRC Assam wherein also it’s referred and mentioned as ‘Final NRC’. This legal position is still in force. The National Identity Cards have yet to be issued to the Citizens whose names have been included in Final NRC. But there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC,” read the FT-II Karimganj order.
Earlier, Assam’s Political (B) department asked members of all Foreigners’ Tribunals not to pass “consequential orders/directions” and stick to giving an “opinion” as mandated by the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.
Previously, the Assam government asked FT members to adhere to the views of the Judicial Department while passing opinions on the citizenship status of suspected foreigners.
This story first appeared on indiatoday.in