Once declared an Indian, the person cannot be declared a foreigner in subsequent proceedings, the foreigners tribunal bench of the Gauhati High Court has observed, Live Law reported on Thursday.

A bench of Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Nani Tagia observed that the opinion of foreigners tribunal regarding the citizenship of a person would operate as “res judicata”. The principle of law states that once a court has given its final decision on a case, the same parties and the same matter cannot be put to litigation again.

The judges made the observation while hearing a batch of pleas in which petitioners submitted that they had been declared Indian citizens initially, but later on declared foreigners. The court gave the clarification on the res judicata principle after confusion emerged on two citizenship-related rulings.

In a citizenship dispute plea filed by a person named Amina Khatoon, the Gauhati High Court had held that the res judicata would not apply to the proceedings under the Foreigners Act and the foreigners tribunal order, since the foreigners tribunal is not a court in a strict sense and so its hearings cannot be considered judicial proceedings.

However, in another plea filed by one Abdul Kuddus , the Supreme Court held that if the foreigners tribunal has passed an order determining the citizenship of a person, by applying the principle of res judicata, the decision will be binding on subsequent proceedings against the same person and there cannot be another proceeding to re-determine the person’s citizenship.