The Supreme Court has set aside an order declaring an Assamese man a foreigner due to a discrepancy in his grandfather’s name, PTI reported on Tuesday.
The bench of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran said that the Foreign Tribunal’s order was based on a discrepancy in Sirajul Hoque’s grandfather’s name. While Hoque and his father Hakim Ali’s names appeared the same in all documents, his grandfather Kematullah’s name was shown as Kefatullah in some documents. Kematullah or Kefatullah’s father’s name, however, appeared as Amtullah in all the documents.
The court ruled that the petitioner had proven that while there was a discrepancy in his grandfather’s name in one document, he had other documents to prove that the two versions of the name belonged to the same man.
“Having gone through these documents, we are of the view that it is not possible to state that Kematullah is not the same despite being named Kefatullah in some of the documents,” the court said. “This being so, the grandfather’s identity, father’s identity etc. has been established successfully by the appellant. Further, the mere fact that the father may later have gone to another village is no reason to doubt this document. We, therefore, set aside the judgment of the High Court as well as the Foreigner’s Tribunal and allow the appeal.”
Hoque had initially moved the Gauhati High Court against the tribunal’s judgement but it dismissed the petition.
The verdict gains significance at a time when there is a debate over the Centre’s National Register of Citizens and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The stated aim of the NRC is to separate genuine Indian citizens from “illegal migrants” who might be living in Assam. According to the terms, anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner. The exercise has been embroiled in several controversies, including allegations of bias against certain communities.
The Citizenship Bill seeks to amend a 1955 law to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. Most northeastern states have opposed the proposed legislation, and it has sparked several protests in the region.