The Gauhati High Court has dismissed citizenship claims of Jabeda Begum, who produced as many as 15 documents.
A bench of justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyoti Saikia, in its order dated February 12, dismissed a writ petition filed by one Jabeda Begum. She was declared a foreigner from Bangladesh by a Foreigners Tribunal in Baksa district in May 2019 despite her claim that she was a citizen of India by birth.
Those identified as suspected illegal immigrants who have come to Assam after March 24, 1971, the cut-off date as per the Citizenship Act, have to prove their citizenship in the Foreigners Tribunals.
Jabeda Begum had claimed that her family is a victim of river erosion and had to shift villages, produced documents where she sought to show that her father was in the NRC list of 1951. She had showed that the names of her parents and grandparents appeared in the voter list of 1966. Names of her parents and siblings were also present in several subsequent voter lists.
She had also produced documents like land revenue payment receipts, her bank passbook, her PAN card and a ration card.
She also showed two certificates by the village head of the village. First certificate said her father Jabed Ali was a permanent resident of the village while second certificate one said Begum was Jabed Ali’s daughter and married to Rejak Ali.
“In the instant case, the petitioner claimed that she is the daughter of Lt. Jabed Ali and Jahura Khatun. She could not file any documents to link herself with her projected parents… “ the HC order read.
“This Court in Md. Babul Islam Vs. Union of India [WP(C)/3547/2016], has already held that PAN Card and Bank documents are not proof of citizenship,” the order stated.
“The petitioner could not file any documents to link herself with her projected brother, Md. Samsul Ali. Land Revenue Paying Receipts do not prove a citizenship of a person. Therefore, we find that the Tribunal has correctly appreciated the evidence placed before it and we could find any perversity in the decision of the Tribunal.”
The High Court also did not take into account the village head’s certificates.
“Certificates issued by a Village Gaon Bura can never be the proof of citizenship of a person. Such certificate can only be used by a married woman to prove that after her marriage, she had shifted to her matrimonial village [Rupjan Begum Vs. Union of India, reported in (2018) 1 SCC 579]” read the order.
The top court had allowed married women to submit Village head certificates as documents to establish their relationship to their parents for inclusion in National Register of Citizens but said they should be verified.
“Merely producing a document is not enough. The content of the document has to be verified and the author of the said document has to come to the witness box,” said SC Kayal, assistant Solicitor General of India.