Assam: Elderly Woman Submits 15 Documents, Including Parents' NRC Clearance, to Prove Citizenship, Guwahati High Court Refuses to Accept
People during NRC exercise in Assam (Photo Credits: IANS)

Guwahati, February 19: An elderly woman in Assam has lost her appeal against the Foreign Tribunal's order declaring her "foreigner" because the Guwahati High Court rejected as many as 15 documents, including NRC clearance of her parents, as proof of Indian citizenship. Dismissing her appeal, the Guwahati High Court said that she "failed to prove her linkage with her projected parents and her projected brother". Voter ID Cannot Be Treated As Conclusive Proof of Citizenship Under Assam Accord: Guwahati High Court.

Jabeda Begum alias Jabeda Khatun, a resident of Guwahari village in Baksa district, was declared “a foreigner of post-1971 stream” by a Foreigners Tribunal in May 2019. She challenged the order and submitted voter lists of four years, NRC clearance of her parents, land revenue payment receipts, certificates from the village headman attesting to permanent residency and marriage, ration card, PAN card and bank passbook to prove she is an Indian citizen. NRC Slip Up: How Final List And Data Related to Assam National Register of Citizens Disappeared From nrcassam.nic.in.

"We gave a number of documents but the court was not satisfied since it felt that that the documents were not enough to prove linkage to her parents," Jabeda Begum’s advocate Ahammad Ali told Indian Express. Dismissing her appeal against the Foreign Tribunal's order, the High Court said she could not produce documents showing she is a daughter of her "projected parents" and sister of her "projected brother". The judges also held that certificate issued by the village head cannot prove her citizenship. Why Citizenship Amendment Act+NRC Raise Fear And Concerns: A Multi-Dimensional Take.

"In the instant case, the petitioner claimed that she is the daughter of Lt. Jabed Ali and Jahura Khatun @ Jahera Kharan. She could not file any documents to link herself with her projected parents. 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 court order.

“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. Md. Samsul Ali, the projected brother of the petitioner, adduced evidence before the Tribunal. He claimed to be 33 years old and his name appeared in the Voter List of 2015. The petitioner could not file any documents to link herself with her projected brother, Md. Samsul Ali," the order further stated.

On land revenue payment receipts submitted by Jabeda Begum, the judges said: "Land Revenue Paying Receipts do not prove a citizenship of a person. Therefore, we find that the Tribunal has correctly appreciated the evidences placed before it and we could not find any perversity in the decision of the Tribunal. That being the position, we would reiterate that the petitioner failed to prove her linkage with her projected parents and her projected brother. Therefore, we find that this writ petition is devoid of merit and accordingly, we dismiss the same."

To identify illegal immigrants in Assam, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was prepared. As many as 19 lakh people were failed to make it to the final NRC list. Two sets of documents (List A and List B) were admissible to prove citizenship during the NRC drive. List A had documents establishing that the person or their ancestors lived in Assam prior to 1971. People born after 1971 were asked to submit List B documents (PAN card, birth certificate etc) to link themselves to a pre-1971 ancestor.