Calcutta High Court rejects TMC leader’s election petition over citizenship

Alo Rani Sarkar’s name appears in Bangladesh’s electoral roll; dual citizenship not applicable in India, court says

Updated - May 22, 2022 01:17 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2022 05:14 pm IST - Kolkata

Calcutta High Court. File

Calcutta High Court. File | Photo Credit: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

A fresh controversy erupted in West Bengal’s political circles after the Calcutta High Court rejected an election petition of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Alo Rani Sarkar on grounds that she held ‘dual citizenship’ and her name figured in Bangladesh’s electoral roll.

Justice Bibek Chaudhuri of the Calcutta High Court in his order on May 20 also directed a copy of the order to be sent to the Election Commission of India for taking necessary action “in respect of the petitioner’s status in this country as on this date”. 

“In the instant case, the petitioner admitted that she acquired citizenship of Bangladesh mistakenly. However, the name of the petitioner still exists in the Electoral Roll of Bangladesh. I am in agreement with the learned advocate for the respondent that the principle of ‘Dual Citizenship’ is not applicable in India. Therefore, the petitioner cannot claim to be a citizen of India when her name appeared in the Electoral Roll of Bangladesh. The relevant date is the date of filing nomination paper by the petitioner. It is admitted from the documents filed by the petitioner that on the date of filing of the nomination paper by her, she was a Bangladeshi national,” Justice Chauduri said.

Ms. Sarkar lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Swapan Majumdar in the 2021 Assembly polls by a margin of 2,004 votes. She filed an election petition before the High Court challenging the poll result.  Mr. Majumdar filed an application before the court that Ms. Sarkar is not a citizen of India and thus her petition did not stand. The petitioner, however, argued before the court that it was after her marriage to a Bangladeshi citizen that her name had figured in that country’s voter list.

“It is needless to say that as soon as the petitioner’s name was recorded in the electoral roll of Bangladesh and she was enrolled as a citizen of Bangladesh, her citizenship of India automatically ceases to exist,” the court had observed in the order.

Referring to the High Court order, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Suvendu Adhikari said that the Trinamool Congress was compromising with the “sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”.  Mr. Adhikari posted on Twitter: “TMC is guilty of violating the Sub-section 5 of Section 29A of The Representation of People’s Act. Trying to get a foreign National elected, they failed to bear allegiance to the Constitution of India by compromising the sovereignty, unity & integrity of India.”

Reacting to the developments, Ms. Sarkar said that all her family members had come to India soon after the Independence of Bangladesh in 1971. She said that she would approach a Division Bench against the order.

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