Gauhati HC sets aside order declaring Morigaon resident foreigner

Guwahati, Sept 13 (PTI) The Gauhati High Court, in a landmark judgement, has set aside an ex-parte order of the Foreigners Tribunal (FT) declaring a Morigaon resident as a foreigner on grounds that citizenship is an important right and should be decided by the Tribunal on the basis of material evidences.

A Division Bench, comprising Justices Manish Choudhary and N Kotiswar Singh ruled on a petition filed by Asoruddin, a resident of Moirabari of Morigaon district, against the Tribunal’s order declaring him as a foreigner in a hearing where he could not be present.

The Judges, in their order passed on September 9, pointed out the petitioner has drawn the Court’s attention to the voters’ lists of 1965,1970 and 1971, where the names of his grandparents, parents and the petitioner himself have been included as voters living in Sahariapam, Mouza-Moirabari.

The court ruled that there were sufficient documents and evidence to prove that the petitioner is an Indian citizen and for set aside the ex-parte order declaring him a foreigner dated April 26, 2011 passed by the Foreigners’ Tribunal (2nd), Morigaon.

The Judges, sent the matter back to the Foreigners Tribunal observing that these are, however, factual aspects which must be ordinarily considered by the Foreigners’ Tribunal and not by this Court.

“If the petitioner is able to prove the aforesaid documents, certainly, he can make a reasonable claim that he is an Indian citizen and not a foreigner, for which we feel that it will be most appropriate to remand the matter to the Foreigners’ Tribunal (2nd), Morigaon, Assam for reconsideration”, the High Court said in its order.

Considering the circumstances as narrated by the petitioner, the Judges were of the view that there were sufficient reasons for the petitioner for not being able to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal to enable it to consider his claim on merit and accordingly, “we are inclined to afford another opportunity to the petitioner to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal to prove that he is an Indian, not a foreigner”.

The High Court also directed the petitioner to appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal (2nd), Morigaon on or before November 8, 2021 for fresh proceedings.

Since the petitioner’s citizenship has come under cloud, he will remain on bail during the proceedings for which he will appear before the Superintendent of Police (Border),Morigaon within 15(fifteen) days from September 9 on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 5,000.

The Judges also directed the petitioner not to leave the jurisdiction of the Morigaon district without obtaining permission from the Superintendent of Police (B), Morigaon.