The Gauhati High Court has set aside an ex-parte order passed by a foreigners tribunal that declared a resident of Assam’s Morigaon district a foreigner, and noted that citizenship was an important right of a person, Live Law reported on Monday.

An ex-parte order is one that is passed without hearing all sides involved in the case.

The court was hearing a petition by a man named Asor Uddin, which challenged a tribunal order that declared him a foreigner at a hearing where he was not present. The petitioner’s lawyer MA Shaikh told the court that his client was underprivileged and could not collect documents relevant to the case or communicate with his counsel.

The petitioner also said that he had to leave Assam for Kerala in order to earn his livelihood.

On the other hand, the lawyer for the foreigners’ tribunal contended that in Asor Uddin’s absence, the tribunal had no option but to declare him a foreigner in an ex-parte order.

A bench headed by Justice Manish Choudhary said that matters regarding citizenship should ordinarily be decided on the merits of the case rather than by way of default.

The High Court noted that the petitioner drew its attention to the voters’ lists of 1965, 1970 and 1971, which mention the names of the petitioner, his parents and his grandparents. The court said that these were factual aspects that should be ordinarily considered by the tribunal, according to PTI.

“However, 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...” the court said in the order dated September 9.

The High Court directed Asor Uddin to appear before the tribunal for fresh proceedings on or before November 8. It, however, said that he will remain on bail during the proceedings as his citizenship “has come under a cloud”, according to Live Law.

The bench directed the petitioner to appear before the Superintendent of Police (B), Morigaon within 15 days, and ordered him to submit a bail bond of Rs 5,000. The court also imposed a separate cost of Rs 5,000 on the petitioner and directed him to submit the amount to the tribunal.