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Linkage with ancestry enough to prove citizenship, rules Gauhati High Court

GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has recently ruled that a citizen cannot be declared a foreigner just because he/she cannot establish linkage with all relatives in the voters list.

The court has observed that when one establishes his linkage to his ancestors who are/were genuine citizens, there was no need to prove any linkage with other relatives who are/were voters of a specific time.

A two-judge division bench of Juctices N Kotiswar Singh and Manish Chouhdury had on March 30 set aside an order of a Barpeta Foreigners Tribunal (FT) that ruled a person “foreigner” just because he could not establish linkage with relatives whose names figure in the voters list. He, however, established his linkage with his grandfather and father who have been voters in India since 1965 and 1970. He also produced documents proving that his ancestors owned property in Assam prior to 1971.

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The petitioner in question is Haider Ali, son of Harmuz Ali and grandson of Nadu Miya of Karagari Nonke Block No 12 village in Barpeta district.

The FT had pronounced Haider a foreigner in a January 30, 2019 order because he could not establish linkage with his relatives whose names were in the voters list.

The court observed that when the petitioner had established his linkage with his grandfather and father who are genuine Indian citizens, there was no need to establish linkage with other projected relatives in the voters list.

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The non-linkage with other relatives linked to his grandparents “does not affect the credibility or genuineness to show his linkage with his grandparents”.

The FT was not satisfied by Haider’s declared ancestry of Harmuz Ali and Nadu Miya. The court, however, verified it through the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council’s admit card where Harmuz Ali is mentioned as Haider’s father. Nadu Miya’s ancestry to Harmuz and Haider is established beyond question in the voters list of 1970.

Haider Ali was issued an FT notice on June 11, 2018. It is alleged before the court that he was declared a foreigner even without a proper investigation or field visit by the FT. Neither was he asked to submit any document to defend his citizenship, the petitioner alleged.

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In the FT, Haider produced revenue documents pertaining to property his family inherited from his grandfather apart from voter identity card, birth certificate, high school records and village certificate.

The FT, however, pronounced him foreigner on the ground that he could not establish his linkage with other relatives named in the voters list of 1970 and that he could not establish his linkage with his father and grandfather.

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