Man declared foreigner in Assam told to apply for citizenship under CAA

Bablu Paul was 2 years old when he came to India from erstwhile East Pakistan in 1964

Updated - January 11, 2022 06:53 pm IST

Published - January 11, 2022 06:52 pm IST - GUWAHATI

The Gauhati High Court.

The Gauhati High Court.

The Gauhati High Court has asked a man declared a foreigner by a tribunal in 2017 to apply for citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019.

The court observed that petitioner Bablu Paul, a resident of Patharkandi in southern Assam’s Karimganj district, can “get the benefit of citizenship” under the CAA that “lifted” the “bar to get citizenship by registration” for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Mr. Paul is a Hindu.

The Foreigners’ Tribunal-II of the district had in May 2017 declared him a foreigner who came to India illegally from Bangladesh on or after March 25, 1971.

He challenged the judgement claiming that he was about two years old when he entered West Bengal with his father Boloram Paul and grandfather Chintaharan Paul 57 years ago from East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh on March 26, 1971. He settled in Patharkandi in 1984 and set up a jewellery business there.

The two-judge bench of Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Malasri Nandi observed that the petitioner entered India in 1964 without any valid documents but was given shelter by this country. “Merely because he was given shelter does not mean that he is a legal migrant as he did not possess any valid document/passport to enter India,” the court said.

While expressing its inability to declare Mr. Paul as an Indian citizen as claimed by him as he was born in the country, the court said the bar to his citizenship by registration was lifted by the CAA and exemptions made in other Central rules such as the Passport (Entry into India) Act of 1920.

“Under Section 6A(2) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, a person entering India before 01.01.1966 can be deemed to be a citizen provided he enters Assam from the specified territory [East Pakistan] and he has been ordinarily residing in Assam after the date of entry,” the court observed.

According to the Assam Accord of 1985, foreigners entering Assam on or before March 25, 1971, can get the benefit of citizenship if they register themselves before the authority.

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