16, Jul 2018 | CJP Team
In a huge relief to many people who fear exclusion from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the Gauhati High Court has reconstituted the bench which hears appeals against judgments of Foreigners’ Tribunals. The previous single judge has been replaced by a two judge bench now.
In an order dated July 3, 2018, the court says, “In supersession of all earlier orders, Hon’ble the Chief Justice has been pleased to reconstitute the Special Bench to hear petitions pertaining to Foreigners’ Tribunal matters.”
3.29 crore people from 68.27 lakh families in Assam have submitted over 6.5 crore documents with the NRC to prove their Indian citizenship. But in December 2017, the NRC published a list of only 1.9 crores as legal citizens. A new draft of the NRC is expected to be published on July 30, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Assamese, many of them from poor and marginalised communities, are under threat of having their legitimate citizenship revoked. CJP believes this is discriminatory. Join us and raise your voice against this injustice. Sign our Petition NOW!
Justice Arup Kumar Goswami has been appointed to the bench and the other spot is to be occupied by any other available judge junior to Justice Goswami.
The complete order may be read here:
A brief background
People can be declared ‘doubtful’ voters by Election Commission officials should their documents not be found in order. The Border Police can also make a reference to the Foreigner’s Tribunal (FT) about suspected foreigners. These D-Voters and suspected foreigners then need to present themselves before the FT in their area with all documents proving their citizenship. They also need to prove the authenticity of these documents given how the burden of proof lies on the procedee in a FT trial. These documents pertain to one’s identity, date of birth, ancestry, inheritance, inclusion of name in the voters’ list etc. If a person is declared a foreigner by the FT, they are not eligible for inclusion in the NRC.
The NRC itself requires submission of certain documents, some of which can also be presented before the FT along with further proof in terms of other supplementary documents such as proof of inclusion in consecutive voters’ lists. There are two types of documents that need to be presented before the NRC; legacy documents and linkage documents. The list of documents required for inclusion in the NCR may be viewed here.
Causes of dispute
Often a small discrepancy such as the manner in which a name has been spelt in the documents, leads to people being declared D-Voters. Other discrepancies may arise in dates, location proof, especially in case of married women leaving their parent’s home to live with their husband’s family etc. Only if and when the FT is satisfied with the evidence the person’s name can be included in the NRC. In case of an adverse judgment, the applicant needs to move Gauhati HC where until the July 3, 2018 order a single judge presided over such appeals.