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Gauhati High Court Rules That NRC Citizens Cannot Be Declared Foreigners Just Because of Failure To Prove Relations With Relations With All Relatives

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The division bench of Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Manish Choudhury, of the Gauhati High Court, pronounced the verdict in WP(C)/1818/2019. The court overturned the ruling of a Foreigner’s tribunal. The court held that a person cannot be declared a foreigner just because he has failed to show his linkage with all his relatives.


Superintendent of police Barpeta made a complaint to the Foreigner’s Tribunal against the appellant Haider Ali. The appellant denied it and alleged before the tribunal that the authority had not conducted any field visit or asked him for any documents. The appellant submitted that he was born in India in the year 1985. His grandparent’s names were in the voter lists of 1965 and 1970. His parent’s name appeared in the 1989 voters list. His name along with his parents appeared in the 1997 and 2010 voters list. The appellant submitted all relevant documents before the tribunal. The state did not challenge the validity of the documents. The state also did not present any evidence to rebut the appellant. The tribunal declared that the appellant failed to prove himself as a citizen because he could not establish the linkage of himself with other persons mentioned in the voter list of 1970. He could not link himself with his other relatives on the voter’s list. Aggrieved with the judgement, the petitioner approached the high court. 

Analysis of the Court

The high court disagreed with the analysis of the tribunal. The court reasoned that the failure of the appellant to show linkage with the other people named in the voter list along with his grandfather did not undermine his evidence. The “fact in issue” was whether the parents and grandparents of the petitioner were Indian citizens. That can be established through the documents provided by the petitioner. The documents were not challenged by the state. The court said that the tribunal had to determine his ancestors. To do that disclosure and identification of all his relatives, was not necessary.  The court observed that in cases like  State of Assam vs. Moslem Mondal (2013 (1) GLT 809) it was held that under section 9 of Foreigners Act standard of proof is a preponderance of probability. Due to minor inconsistencies, the evidence cannot be negated. So failure to disclose the identity of some of his relatives does not render the appellant’s evidence unreliable. 


The court held that Haider Ali was an Indian citizen, not a foreigner as he had proved his ancestry with his father and grandfather who were Indian citizens.

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