‘Solid proof not must for establishing citizenship’

HC directive to Foreigner’s Tribunal

Proof beyond all reasonable doubts is not required in a Foreigners Tribunal (FT) for establishing one’s citizenship, the Gauhati High Court has observed in the case of a 65-year-old “declared foreigner” in Assam.

The court made the observation while allowing a petition of one Idrish Ali to set aside an order by an FT in eastern Assam’s Jorhat town. The FT had declared Mr. Ali, from No. 2 Koirigaon village in the adjoining Golaghat district, a foreigner in September 2018.

The petitioner had shown the FT 11 documents, including the voters’ lists of 1985 and 1989 that contained his name. The FT rejected these documents while observing that he was not included in the electoral rolls of 1974 and 1975, concluding that he was unable to establish his stay in Assam prior to 1971.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyoti Saikia criticised the FTs but observed that strict rules of evidence were not applicable to the tribunals “established for quick disposal of the matters sent to it”.

The Bench observed: “Nothing is required to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt”.

Terming the FT ruling “perverse” and unsustainable, the court asked the tribunal to take a fresh decision on merits.

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