The Supreme Court on Friday put a stay on the deportation of an Assam woman who had been excluded from the final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens, Bar and Bench reported.
In 2019, the Gauhati High Court had upheld a 2017 verdict by a Foreigners Tribunal that the woman was not a citizen of India. Judges in both courts held that she had entered Assam illegally through Bangladesh after March 25, 1971 – the cutoff date in the northeastern state to prove citizenship.
On Friday, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli were hearing a plea filed by the woman challenging the High Court verdict.
Advocate Pijush Kanti Roy, appearing for the woman told the judges that all her family members had been declared Indian citizens. However, the Foreigners Tribunal held that she had entered the country illegally and directed the authorities to take action, Live Law reported.
The judges took this argument into consideration to put a stay on the woman’s deportation till the next hearing of the plea after three years and asked the Centre and Assam government to file their responses to the petition.
In her plea, the woman has claimed that she is an Indian citizen by birth. The woman also said that she has submitted documents to prove that the name of her parents existed in voter lists and certificates issued by the local panchayat before 1971.
National Register of Citizens
In August 2019, Assam had published a National Register of Citizens with an aim to distinguish Indian citizens from undocumented immigrants living in the state. More than 19 lakh persons in Assam were left out of the final list of the National Register of Citizens – around 6% of Assam’s entire population.
The state government had called the final draft of the National Register of Citizens “faulty” and alleged that it has excluded several indigenous people of Assam. Foreigners’ Tribunals were tasked with hearing their appeals against exclusion. Those whose claims are rejected face detention.
Most persons deemed to be foreigners and detained in the camps “lacked even elementary legal representation and had not been heard by the tribunals”, human rights activist Harsh Mander wrote in an article for Scroll.in in July 2019.
Earlier this month, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Assembly that 195 persons are currently lodged in six detention centres in the state. These centres are used to hold persons identified as foreigners and are awaiting deportation or repatriation, or persons waiting for their citizenship claims to be settled.