Gauhati HC extends interim protection to Gulbhanu Begum FT declared her a foreigner because authorities had recorded her father’s name incorrectly

18, Nov 2021 | CJP Team

In yet another victory for Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), the Gauhati High Court has issued notice in connection with our petition on behalf of Gulbhanu Begum who was declared foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Bongaigaon, Assam. She has now been granted interim protection.

Gubhanu Begum is a resident of Patkata Pt-II village that falls under the jurisdiction of Manikpur police station in the Bongaigoan district of Assam. She has lived here with her husband Atowar Rahman ever since they got married in 1992, when Gulbhanu was just 15 years old.

Trouble began on March 14, 2018 when she was served notice to appear before the Bongaigaon FT to defend her citizenship. However, Gulbhanu protested this notice because in it, her father’s name was recorded incorrectly. Yet the police forcibly served her notice.

Every day of each week, a formidable team of community volunteers, district volunteer motivators and lawyers—CJP’s Team Assam – is providing ready at hand paralegal guidance, counselling and actual legal aid to hundreds of individuals and families paralysed by the citizenship-driven humanitarian crisis in the state. Our boots on the ground approach has ensured that 12,00,000 persons filled their forms to enlist in the NRC (2017-2019) and over the past one year alone we have helped release 41 persons from Assam’s dreaded detention camps. Our intrepid team provides paralegal assistance to, on an average of 72-96 families each month. Our district-level, legal team works on 25 Foreigner Tribunal cases month on month. This ground level data ensures informed interventions by CJP in our Constitutional Courts, the Guwahati High Court and the Supreme Court. Such work is possible because of you, individuals all over India, who believe in this work. Our maxim, Equal Rights for All.  #HelpCJPHelpAssam. Donate NOW!

Gulbhanu was born in Chandpur Pt-IV village that falls under the jurisdiction of the Borkhola police station in the Chachar district of Assam to Taiyab Ali Laskar and Alitun Ness Laskar. She was raised in this village and lived here till she got married and moved to her marital home. However, the FT notice served to Gulbhanu gives her father’s name as one Sirajul Sheikh.

After receiving the FT notice Gulbhanu moved an application before the FT on May 10, 2018 praying that proceedings against her be dropped owing to wrong reflection of father’s name in the FT notice. But the FT refused to budge. Gulbhanu appealed against this in the HC, but was directed to approach the FT and disclose all material facts.

The petitioner did so and submitted in her written statement before the FT that she is a citizen by birth and a regular vote of the No 33 Bijni LAC. The petitioner’s contention is that her father’s name is enrolled in the legacy data of village Chandpur Part IV of Borkhola town, District Cachar. Further her father’s name is also enrolled in the voter list of 1965 and 1970. She also contented that her father has a periodic Patta land at village Chandpur Part IV settled in the year 1954/55. The petitioner further contented that, names of both her parents were enrolled in the voter list. She was married to Atowar Rahman of Village No 2, Patkata, District Bongaigaon on April 18, 1992 and since then she has been residing with her husband. Her name was enrolled with her husband in the voter list of 2010 under 33 No Bijni LAC. Her name was also enrolled in the Voter list of 2017 and she got a share of land from her father through mutation order dated March 27, 2018. She also has Electoral photo Identity card issued by the Election Commissioner of India.

She relied upon the following documents:

  1. Copy of legacy data
  2. Certified copy of the Voters list of 1965
  3. Certified copy of the Voters list of 1970.
  4. Certified copy of the Voters list of 1997.
  5. Certified copy of the Electoral Roll of 2010
  6. Certified copy of the Electoral Roll of 2017
  7. Copy of Jamabandi for Surveyed village
  8. Copy of certificate of Gaon panchayat
  9. Copy of Permanent Account Number Card
  10. Copy of mutation order issued by the settlement officer, Katigorah
  11. Copy of Identity card for candidate of G.P member
  12. Copy of Electoral Photo Identity card.

The Petitioner, in view of the narration in the written statement, while denying the allegation that she is a foreigner, sought closure of the proceeding and declaration that she is a citizen of India.

But on March 20, 2020, the FT declared Gulbhanu Begum foreigner in BNGN/FT Case No 69/2016 (Ref P.E Case No.498/15), holding that she failed to establish that she was born out of genuine Indian parents prior to March 24, 1971.

CJP then helped her challenge this FT order by moving a petition on her behalf before the Gauhati High Court. We submitted, “That the learned Tribunal while examining the documents exhibited in the proceeding was acting with a preconceived mind as would be evident from the impugned order itself. Such decision with preconceived notion has vitiated the entire findings and unless the same is set aside and quashed, the petitioner would suffer irreparable loss and injury.” We further submitted, “That the petitioner is a voter, her name having been enrolled in the voters list and also the concerned authority has issued an Electoral Identity Card in the name of the petitioner. The Learned Tribunal thus had no authority to discard such piece of evidence, which only a citizen is entitled to have.” Moreover, “Tribunal has no jurisdiction to determine the validity of the registration of the petitioner as a voter and more so since no objection was raised on the validity and the authenticity of the said documents, much less any evidence controverting the authenticity and genuineness   of the said documents having been produced. The finding of the learned Tribunal suffers from jurisdictional error as well as perversity.”

On the subject of her father’s name being recorded incorrectly, we submitted, “That the petitioner had admittedly exhibited certified copies of electoral rolls of her parents of the year 1965 & 1970, which establishes her link with her parents. Merely because the inquiry officer in a farcical inquiry conducted behind her back had recorded her father’s name as Sirajul Sheikh, the same cannot be a ground to make the petitioner the daughter of Sirajul Sheikh ignoring the evidence on record.”

When it comes to documents submitted by Gulbhanu Begum while defending her citizenship begore the Bongaigaon FT, we submitted before the Gauhati HC, “That the Learned Tribunal failed to appreciate the fact that none of the documents relied upon by the petitioner were objected to by the state and as such once the documents having been admitted, the Learned Tribunal ought not have discarded the said documents to come to a contrary finding.” Further, “That the proceedings before the learned tribunal being the quasi-judicial in nature, the rigors of the Evidence Act and the Code of Civil Procedure are not applicable and therefore the Learned Tribunal grossly erred in ignoring the documents relied upon by the petitioner and declaring the petitioner to be a foreigner.” Also, “That the Learned Tribunal failed to appreciate the provisions of Sec 65B of the Evidence Act with regard to the electronic evidence and discarded the corroborative evidences submitted by the petitioner.”

Our full submissions may be read here:

The Gauhati HC, on Wednesday, issued notice to the state in the matter and granted Gulbhanu Laskar interim protection from arrest.


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