CJP Assam’s teams legal triumphs in 2023

A total of 18 success stories in 2023 alone, with all being declared Indian by Assam’s Foreigners Tribunal through the year. But what does it take, for a paralegal and legal team to achieve this? CJP’s Team Assam, as this detailed document reveals shows grit and dedication in collating and submitting authentic documents, presenting cogent Written Statements and finally vital Witnesses, in person!

It is a battle without parallel with a vast network of Community Volunteers, District Volunteers and a formidable back up of a Team at the districts, in Mumbai and New Delhi.

CJP’s 2023 Assam Story

End 2022 early 2023

The case of 68 year-old Ajibun Nessa was referred by the S.I. (Border) of Goalpara district in Assam. The officer, who suspected Ajibun Nessa of being a foreigner did so simply because she failed to present any documents during the “spot inquiry.” Following this, (without further probe or giving her any chance to make her case), the S.I. (Border) sent her case to Goalpara’s superintendent of police (Border). The S.P. (Border) then submitted the case to the IM (D) T Tribunal for further opinion. Due to the IM (D) T Tribunal (Act) being struck down, this case was referred to Goalpara Foreigners Tribunal No. 2 of case nos. GFT-2/764/22 and GFT-2/765/22, and a notice was issued to Ajibun Nessa.

The charge against victim Ajibun Nessa was that she unlawfully entered India between January 1, 1966 and March 24, 1971 or after March 25, 1971, and has been living there ever since, although this was completely incorrect and unsubstantiated. Even though, Ajibun, her father Abdul Sheikh, and her grandfather Rahamatulla were all born in the village Dabpara (Revenue village- Karipara Part 3) in Matia Revenue circle, District Goalpara, Assam, India. She was born and raised in the village of Dabpara (Revenue village- Karipara Part 3) in the Matia Revenue circle of the district of Goalpara, Assam. She also hails from the Goriya Muslim community and has already been identified as the “khilonjia,” or the Assam’s original inhabitants.

In addition, as Exhibits, CJP’s lawyers annexed the Karipara Gaon Panchayat’s Linkage (Police Station Matia, district Goalpara) Certificate that recorded that Ajibun is the daughter of Abdul Shaikh. This certificate has been signed by Secretary Karipara, Gaon Panchayat and countersigned by BDO, Matia Development Block. This was accepted by the FT as a Linkage document. Annexed also is Ajibun’s own PAN Card which was accepted by the FT as a supporting document. The Voter’s Lists of 1979 and 1985 that reflect Ajibun’s own presence as a registered voter were accepted as evidence after the copies were verified with a certified copy of the original. One set of documents established her father, Abdul Shaikh’s legitimate Indian Citizenship, witnesses and the linkage certificate established hers, Ajibun as in fact as the daughter of Abdul Shaikh and then finally her own documents of identity established her as Ajibun who is an Indian Citizen. After two months of hard work put in by the CJP Team, Ajibun Nessa being declared an Indian citizen, in a relatively short amount of time. After six years of gruelling work creating para legal history and jurisprudence, CJP’s legal and paralegal team have been consistent in the quality of evidence they produce, Written Statements (WS) submitted and witnesses produced.

This order was passed on December 29, 2022 and copies made available some months later.

The order may be read here:

February 2023

Ramila Begum

With Ramila’s parents and grandparents both born in the Jotsorobdi village, Goalpara (now under the Krishnai police station in Assam, both her parents and grandparents were and are citizens by birth. She also belongs to the Goriya community, which has been designated by the Assam government’s cabinet as an indigenous Muslim community. Yet a person like her, unassailingly Indian, still received the dreaded notice from a Foreigner’s Tribunal (FT).  Deeply distressed, she approached and received assistance from CJP’s paralegal and legal team in Assam. Advocate Ashim Mubarak of the CJP legal team handled this case before the FT. The notice asking her to prove her citizenship was received by Ramila, her husband and step-son too.

Ramila’ parents, Late Kofur Ali @ Fokir Ali Sheikh and Late Kosiron Bibi, were from the Jotsorobdi village in Goalpara district, now under the Krishnai police station in Assam, India. Her parents and grandparents were both born and raised in the same village, which meant that her parents and grandparents were all Indian citizens by birth.

Ramila married Jhanuddin Sheikh of village Milannagar Santipur, Borpahar, Goalpara district, on September 9, 1990, after her father passed away. Her name was then added to the voter lists for the years 1997, 2005, 2017, 2021, and 2022, along with her husband’s. Then began the rigorous battle to establish that she was Indian as under the Foreigners Order, 1964 arising out of the 1946 Foreigner’s Act the onus of burden of proof is on the individual, not the state making the accusation!

The accusation levelled against victim Ramila Begum is that she had illegally entered India. CJP’s legal intervention in the form of Written Statements, annexures of adequate documents and arguments established how the accusation was without foundation. We proved that the Investigation Officer (IO) had neither visited Ramila’s home nor even bothered to request any documents as proof of her citizenship and nationality. In sum, the IO did not conduct a fair investigation of the claims levied against her, and had falsely submitted a case against Ramila, without carrying out a proper inquiry or investigation.

In the eight months that her case was heard in 2023, CJP’s legal team presented to the Tribunal land deeds from 1965 and 1996, which were registered in the names of her father and uncle. Furthermore, it was established that the names of Ramila’s parents appear in the voter list, beginning from 1966, and after the death of her father, the name of her mother appears in the voter list from 1989 onwards.  Ramila also presented a linkage certificate issued on June 19, 2015 before the tribunal.

All these documents – that the IO should have examined without vicariously issuing notice and submitting hapless Ramila to the tortuous procedure before a Tribunal – were adequately presented and after eight months of hard work by the CJP team, Ramila has finally been declared an Indian citizen by the FT.

Photo of Ramila Begum inside her home

While the above narrative sounds simple and logical, a perusal of the six page order of the FT that list as many as 14 annexures that the CJP Legal Team submitted in the case to ensure successful determination tells its own tale. These included the land deeds in the name of her father and uncle, five separate copies from 1997, 2005, 2017, 2021, and 2022 of Voters Lists that find the name of her parents and husband and herself; death certificates of her parents, her marriage certificate, the linkage certificate in the form of the Village Panchayat/elders sworn affidavit proving her to be the progeny of her parents. The Secretary of the Manikpur Bhelakhamar Gaon Panchayat was also examined before the FT when the Kazi certificate on Ramila’s marriage to Jhanuddin was not found to be clear. Several of her family and extended family members were also examined in the demanding process.

The Order was delivered on February 2, 2023.

The Order may be read here:

February 2023

Hajema Khatun

Forty-seven years ago, Hajema Khatun was born in 1977 and was a resident of Garugaon Part-I village formerly part of undivided Goalpara and is now located in Bongaigaon District. She grew up in the same village and later married Julfikar Ali, settling with her husband and his family in Dankinamari village, Bongaigaon district. Hajema’s father passed away on May 20, 2017, while her mother, Jafiran Nessa (also known as Jafiran Begum) is believed to have passed away around the year 2014.

Distressed like many victims of the citizenship crisis in Assam, Hajema and her family turned to the CJP’s team in Assam for assistance. The case against Hajema Khatun was registered in 2007, but Hajema received notice of it only in 2020, after a lapse of 13 years, thereby exceeding the legal time limit for investigation. This unjust delay added to the already arduous journey for Hajema and her family.

The investigating officer (IO) responsible for the case submitted an inquiry report that were filled with falsehoods and unfounded claims against Hajema. Shockingly, the IO had, prior to this, failed to conduct a proper investigation and never even visited Hajema’s home or the residences of the alleged witnesses mentioned in the report. This lack of due diligence resulted in the inclusion of fabricated statements from Hajema and the supposed witnesses, painting an inaccurate picture of the case.

Furthermore, the IO failed to either seize or submit –before the Tribunal–any supporting documents, including passports or other relevant paperwork, to substantiate the claim that Hajema was a foreign national. The investigation process was marred by serious procedural flaws, with the IO neglecting to obtain a statement from Hajema herself and failing to issue any notices or provide an opportunity for her to prove her citizenship.

The crux of the legal battle in Hajema Khatun’s case revolves around her claim to be the daughter of the late Hazrat Ali Sheikh and Jafiran Nessa, and her assertion of Indian citizenship.  Hajema Khatun’s argument rests on the premise that her grandparents, Saraddin Sheikh and Sokina Bibi, were Indian citizens, and therefore, she too is entitled to Indian citizenship. The voter lists that the CJP team annexed with her Written Submissions (WS) prove that her grandparents were registered voters in the past, further bolstering her claim. Additionally, the land records from Garugaon demonstrate ownership of property by her father, Hazrat Ali Sheikh, affirming his Indian citizenship and establishing his relationship as her parent.

Besides this already sufficient proof, Hajema Khatun has also submitted various identity documents such as voter identity cards and a ration card, which serve as evidence of her own existence as an Indian citizen. These documents, along with the next of kin certificate, validate her relationship to Hazrat Ali Sheikh as his daughter.

The Order was passed February 3, 2023.

A copy of the Order may be read here:

February 2023

Sukur Ali

In the first quarter of 2022, CJP’s team Assam was informed through its wide community volunteer network of the notices received by Sukur Ali, a citizen and voter of India, from the Bongaigaon Foreigners Tribunal. Bongaigaon is a district of Assam located north-west of Guwahati. His was a family living in acute economic distress with a mother with a severe disability. CJP took up the case.

How and why did the FT at Bongaigaon serve this notice? Without any proper investigation, an ‘inquiry report was submitted” to the tribunal wrongly alleging that  that Sukur Ali of the Bongaigaon district of Assam was a migrant (read “suspected foreigner”) from Bangladesh. Ironically this report was arbitrarily written without the investigating officer even visiting the home of Sukur Ali. Neither did he visit the home of any village “witnesses” or submit any supportive documents that would support the fallacious inquiry’s claims. As has not become a routine practice with the Assam Border police, the IO had therefore falsely written/recorded the statements of the opposite party and the so-called ‘witnesses’, without even questioning them, submitting a false inquiry report.

Sukur and his story is a fitting example of those Indians who are oppressed by state functionaries. Sukur, born and brought up in India, was the only son of Abdul Jalil @ Abdul Jalil Sheikh and Majiran Nessa @ Majiran Bewa. He was born in the village of Kawadi No. 2 (Sonaikhola) under the Manikpur police station of the Bongaigaon district in 1981. He grew up in the same village. Notably, Sukur is also a regular voter. It was only after careful verification and investigation that the Election Officer of the concerned area recorded/enrolled his name in the Electoral Roll. Since, only Indian citizens can have their names added to the electoral roll, no doubt should even have arisen regarding his citizenship. Additionally, his parents and grandparents are both Indian citizens, thus, making him an Indian citizen by birth.

Presenting Sukur Ali’s case, CJP’s legal team presented hard data to show that Sukur is Indian by birth with his name contained in the 1951 NRC. Besides, the name of Sukur Ali’s late father, Abdul Jalil Sheikh, was also present on the 1966 voters list. Additionally, Sukur’s mother was still a voter (in 2022 when we got the case). When it came to land documents, however, there appeared to be some sort of family feud. Despite the fact that they had some land documents, one of Shukur’s relatives had taken possession of all of them and had refused to part with them. After enlisting local community support on this issue, the team began with the process of arranging for a bailor. This is because, according to the rules of the Bongaigaon Foreigners Tribunal, a bailor is required for the preliminary level hearing of FT cases. After locating a bailor with a request for his own documents, CJP worked with the village community to ensure that Sukur Ali was provided with local, moral support during the proceedings.

Such rigorous and seemingly extraneous community level paralegal work is required since often unexpected issues and hurdles crop up at the Foreigners Tribunal hearing stage. Otherwise legally unacceptable terms like ‘projected father’ or ‘projected mother’ are used by authorities including in orders of the FTs. If the process if not monitored with legal acumen, diligence and honesty, for differences/changes in small spelling errors or date differences, a person can be unilaterally declared a foreigner!

CJP’s legal team had to prepare a competent and comprehensive written statement. Here we were confronted with the (change in name) of Sukur Ali’s mother after the death of her husband from ‘Majiram Nessa Khatun’ to ‘Majiram Nessa Bewa” a practice within the local Muslim community. This had to be established and explained thoroughly in the Written Statement before the Tribunal.

Finally in the WS (Written statement) submitted, the legal team enunciated the case clearly, “The IO of the case did not seize and submit any documents, such as the passport or any other relevant documents, along with an inquiry report to substantiate their claims of the opposite party (Sukur) being a foreign national.” Moreover the WS clarified that in this case, the IO never recorded any statement from the opposite party (Sukur). “Thus, it would not be a reach to say that the names of the witnesses tagged with the case record are nothing, but an attempt to build a false case against the opposite party.” It was also pointed out that during the time of investigation the I/O of this instant case had not even issued any notice to the opposite party for appearance or produced any documents to prove the citizenship of the opposite party, as is the due process of law.

The Order was delivered on February 16, 2023.

The Order may be read here:

March 2023

Usman Ali

Despite the prevalent notion in law of res judicata (the principle that a cause of action may not be re-litigated once it has been judged on the merits), no just norm or law applies to the hapless marginalised communities in Assam. After being a “suspected foreigner” and then “declared Indian by the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) way back in 1999 after he had all the necessary documents— again in 2018 two more separate cases were filed against him all over again. First in the year of 1997 when an IM(D)T[1] case was registered against Usman, simply based on “doubts” Usman dug his heels in, fought for and finally, received justice. After a thorough examination of his and his father’s documents, the Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) of Goalpara district dismissed the case against him in 1999, and the tag of illegal migrant was removed.

“Jorimuddin Sheikh, father of Usman was listed in SL no 1 in village Khariabari under the PS Bijni as per the NRC of 1951,” the Tribunal stated clearly in the order copy. The Tribunal also discovered that his father’s name was recorded under the 42 Abhayapuri LAC in the 1966 voter list. As a result, the issue of illegal migration or those who arrived in India after March 25, 1971 does not arise. That was the earlier Order in 1999. But his ordeal did not end there. Again, in 2017, 18 years later, he was again sent a notice via the border of the local police station to prove his citizenship once more. Two identical cases were filed against him, with the case numbers BNGN/FT/CASE NO. 1396/09 and BNGN/FT/CASE NO. 51/10.

The legal issue –left unanswered – can the tribunal send a man a suspect foreigner notice even after he has been declared an Indian not once, but twice by the same agency, the FT? Is it only in Assam that an Indian, a Muslim who was declared Indian by a Tribunal in 1999, be condemned as an illegal immigrant/foreigner and tested three times? Under the guise of the Assam citizenship test, the Assam Foreigners Tribunal and border police continue to follow arbitrary mal-practice targeting the innocent and marginalized, affecting their right to life (Article 21) with equilibrium and without repeated harassment, equality before the law (Article 14) and a life without discrimination (Article 15). Pertinently who will provide reparation (compensation) for the 24 years, two dozen years, of continual harassment by the State?

Hence, Usman Ali, a daily wager, has had to go through the arduous process of the Foreigner Tribunal no less than three times in Assam. A daily wage earner, he was born in the village of Barbakhra, which was then part of the Bijni Police Station and is now part of the Bongaigaon district’s Manikpur. Jorimuddin Sheikh, his father, was also a son of this soil. Jorimuddin Sheikh’s name had even appeared in the 1951 NRC. However, in later years, his name was recorded – as often happens in a bureaucratic slip in spelling – as Joshimuddin, Joshi, or Josim Sheikh. Determined to fight, he did and then with the help of his family, he was for the second time in his life, he was recognised as an Indian in his own country in the year 2017.

Then came the third blow! In May 2022, Usman was, for the third time, accused of being a suspected foreigner. In the inquiry report filed in his case, the investigating officer of the case had, without even looking into the previous back ground and speaking order of the FT in 1999, without therefore properly investigating the case, falsely alleged that he is from East Pakistan (Bangladesh). While doing so, the I/O of the case never once visited his home or the homes of the so-called witnesses, as mentioned in the inquiry report.

The I/O had simply and falsely written/recorded the opposite party’s and so-called witnesses’ statements without questioning them, and then proceeded to submit a false inquiry report. Arbitrary action? It was then that Usman then contacted the ground team of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) team, working tirelessly in 19 districts. He explained his case: that this foreigner notice is the third such notice that he has received, and he has dealt with this twice in the past too.

In the arguments made before the FT, a member of our CJP legal team stated unequivocally that Usman is Indian by birth. According to the written statement (WS) submitted, it was mentioned that “The I/O of the case did not seize and submit any documents, passport or any other documents along with inquiry report in connection with the above-mentioned case to prove the opposite party as a foreign national.” To substantiate that the case’s I/O submitted a false inquiry report against the opposing party, the CJP legal team highlighted that in the inquiry report, the I/O of the case did not disclose the interrogation report or the address of the foreign national. It was further provided that the I/O seized no documents from the opposing party that could be used to prove that the opposing party is a foreign national.

The CJP’s legal team also emphasised in their arguments that the I.O. in this case never accepted any statement from the opposing party (OP that is Usman Ali). The names of the witnesses attached to the case record served the purpose of only making a false case against the opposing party. During the investigation, the I.O. of this case did not issue any notice to the opposing party to appear or show any documents to prove the opposing party’s citizenship as required by law. After these elaborate and substantive submissions, CJP has now been able to claim Usman’s citizenship for the third time.

[1]The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 was a legislative attempt to correct the rapacious test of citizenship in force under the Foreigners Order of 1964 and the Foreigners Act, 1946 but was struck down by the Supreme Court in Sarbanda Sonowal v/s Union of India in 2005.

The Order may be read here:

March 23, 2023

Anowara Khatun born and brought up in the village of Nagajan under Kharupetia Police Station, Darrang District, Assam had to face an eight month long process before the Foreigner Tribunal of Darrang. She had all the documents, even her father and forefathers names were in the voter list of 1966, 1971 and 1989. However, due to a small error in her father’s name led her into the clutches of the legal citizenship imbroglio. CJP’s legal team member Advocate Abdul Hai and DVM of Darrang District Joinal Abedin worked intensely to collate and produce documents along with her existing family members, namely her brothers, as witnesses. Misspelt names and having to move due to soil erosion nearly left Anowara Khatoon stateless.

Anowara Khatoon, a resident of Assam who had been unjustly served a notice and accused of being a foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) in Darrang District, was born and brought up in the village of Nagajan under Kharupetia Police Station, Darrang District, Assam, Anowara’s journey to reclaim her identity has been long and arduous. She comes from an impoverished household, and she and her family have no socioeconomic resources. Her husband earns a living as a cart driver. Her father, Asaruddin Deu, cast his vote in 1966 and 1970. Her mother’s name is Moiful Nessa, and she passed away a while ago. In 1988, due to the erosion of their original village, Satrakanara, by the Brahmaputra River, Asaruddin Deu and his family were forced to relocate to Nagajan, where they have since settled permanently. Anowara and her family have been residing there and participated in the 1989 elections as legitimate voters.

Anowara, along with her own substantial set of documents, including the 1997 voter list, Aadhaar card, and land documents, submitted everything she had to prove her Indian citizenship. When she received notice of being a suspected foreigner, Anowara was stunned and in shock; she could not eat or sleep for days. Being economically and socially disadvantaged, Anowara sought legal representation after receiving the notice from the Foreigners’ Tribunal. CJP’s legal team presented a robust case based on documents of Anorwar’s parents as well as grandfather, along with other evidence they had painstakingly collected in the FT. CJP also facilitated evidence of two brothers of Anowara’s who took to the stand and testify as witnesses for her.

To disprove allegations of being a suspected foreigner, there was a hurdle. Her father’s name was registered differently in the voting lists of two different regions. Due to climate change, the river Brahmaputra is prone to floods. The river, when it shifts its course, often submerges existing villages and settlements. This presents a huge hurdle for people in Assam, because for the residents of the erstwhile submerged village, their village has sunk underwater. Several people every year are erroneously relegated as suspected foreigners due to this reason. Another hurdle was that Anowara’s father’s name was spelt differently in two voter lists. The difference between Asudeu and Assaruddin Deu that seems to be nothing more than a spelling mistake due to local dialects as well as due as a variation that often arises in documents due to haste and bureaucratic slips, even illiteracy. Often when making documents, especially in Assam, people who have no education depend on an officer or a bureaucrat in charge to spell and write out their name. This exercise, if performed mechanically or even indifferently, with no cross-checking with previous records can cause such bloomers: the same person gets a document with a changed spelling of their name, such as in the case of Anowar Khatoon’s father. This small error can cause someone to become potentially stateless. Women, as well as other marginalised communities, have been disproportionately affected by the citizenship crisis, and due to a lack of resources, have to face the brunt of the process, despite having documents to prove their residence in India since their birth.

Thereby, not only are Asudeu and Assaruddin Deu (as proven in the FT judgment later) one and the same person, given the presence of his name in 1966, 1971 and 1989 Voters Lists of the state, but moreover, he was not an illegal immigrant. Besides the legitimacy and presence of the mother of Anowara, Moiful Nessa in 1989 and 1997 Voters’ Lists irrefutably established her to be the daughter of legitimate citizens whose names were in the voting lists, and hence claims by the Assam Border Police in the notice that she was an illegal immigrant were categorically disproved. Based on this, the Foreigner Tribunal Darrang Mangaldai has held Anowara Khatoon to be an Indian rejecting the claims in the reference case made out by the Border Police.

Both issues presented a challenge to CJP’s legal team. Therefore, the legal team laboured intensively to produce documents along with her existing family members, namely her brothers, as witnesses. The team showed voter lists with Anowara’s parents’ names in them from multiple years and argued that her father initially resided in Baghbar but later relocated to the Darrang District. To substantiate her assertion regarding the citizenship status of her parents, the team presented voter lists from 1966 and 1970, respectively. These lists featured Anowar’s father’s name as Asudeu. Additionally, a copy of the 1989 voter list includes the name of Asaruddin Deo as a registered voter. The legal team argued that Asudeu and Asaruddin are one and the same. Upon comparing the 1966 and 1970 voter lists with the 1989 voter list, it was concluded that despite the difference in names, Asudeu and Asoruddin Deu this is the father of Anowara, much to her relief.

The Order was passed on March 23, 2023

The Order may be read here:

April 2023

Omesha Bibi

Omesha was born and brought up in the West Garo Hills, Meghalaya about 55 years ago. She

Is the daughter of Sopial Sheikh and Saleha bibi. On April 15, 1983, she got married to Mojaffar

Hosen, son of late Naibulla Sheikh of Village Dharai under Lakhipur police station Goalpara

Of Assam. Since then she has been a resident of Assam. However, she was served the Foreigner Notice for being a suspected foreigner. The case erroneously filed by the Assam Border Police relates in 2009, Omesha Bibi however received a notice from the FT at Goalpara in 2022 and heard in 2023. The Order declaring her an Indian was passed on April 10, 2023 and copies made available on May 6 of last year.

What did the arduous process entail? For CJP’s paralegal and legal team it meant counselling Omesha Bibi and her family, assisting in the collection of over two dozen documents, preparing a Written Statement (WS) and making oral submissions before the FT. Advocate Ashim Mobarak from CJP’s team appeared in the case.

Omesha Bibi’s story, like all others in Assam, is unique. Omesha with the legal assistance of the CJP team established that her grandparent’s name were L.t. Asmatulla Sheikh and L.t. Sakila Khatun @ Sakila Bibi and parent’s name are L.t. Sopial Sheikh @ Sofial Sk @ Sofial Saikh @ Sofiar Rohman @ Sofial Seikh and Saleha Bibi. That, her father has been recorded in the NRC of 1951 of Village Takimari under Lakhipur police station in the Goalpara district of Assam. As in many of the cases who’s citizenship has been unjustly targeted by the state, it was only due to the natural calamity caused by erosion of the Brahmaputra that her grandfather along with father had been shifted in to the village of Haribhanga in the village of Takimari that is within the Phulbari police station area of Meghalaya in the West Garo Hills.

Born here, Omesha Bibi got married to Mojaffar Hosen, son of Naibulla Sheikh of the Dharai village in the Goalpara district of her Assam and her name, along with her husband’s is even recorded in the voter list of 1985,1997,2005,2015 & 2021.

In the course of the hearing and submissions that include the WS of Omesha Bibi had to, with CJP’s assistance ensure that her mother, Saleha appeared as a witness to establish that she, Saleha, wife of Sofial Sheikh from Haribhanga village of Meghalaya was in fact Omesha’s mother and that the latter was brought up by her mother and father, after which she got married to Mojaffar Hosen, son of Naibulla Sheikh of Goalpara, Assam. The mother steadfastly denied and proved that her daughter was not a foreigner who had come to India from Bangladesh after 1971. Her brother, namely Abdul Salam Sheikh, also from Meghalaya had to appear as defence witness who had to depose and assert that Omesha was in fact his younger sister, born to the family living in Meghalaya and denied the allegation that she was from Bangladesh. Another defence witness was Mantaz Ali, from Dhubri, Assam, who testified on Omesha Bibi’s marriage to Hasen, son of Nayeruddin of Dharai village and also verified the Kabin Nama, which is the marriage certificate with signature of the Kazi that was also annexed. One Jel Haq Fesku Sorkar from Haribhanga Village in Meghalaya was also brought in by CJP as defence witness for Omesha Bibi to prove the Gaon Bara Certificate that was issued by him and carried his signature. Finally, a defence witness, Kamala Kantra Ray from Dhubri in Assam was brought in to establish and prove the land deed recorded in possession in January 18, 1962 (Khaitan) that proves that Omesha Bibi’s father Asmatullah  Shaikh had land (3 bigha, 3 katha, 3 lecha) here before the flooding of the Brahmaputra and shift of residence to Meghalaya.

The order records the facts and background of the case and how, while the names of Omesha Bibi’s father and grandfather figure in the 1951 NRC Enumeration from Goalpara, Assam but due to the erosion of the Brahmaputra village, were settled in Haribhanga (Police Station Phulpari), West Garo Hills, Meghalaya. Both her and her husband’s name figure in the Voter’s list from 1985 to date.

In the long and onerous list of documents meticulously collected collated by CJP and presented to the FT were: 1985, 1997, 2005, 2015, 2021 certified copies of the Voters List, an original copy of the 1951 NRC enumeration, land documents from Meghalaya and Assam, death certificate of Sofial Shaikh, father of Omesha Bibi, the 1981 Kabin Nama (Muslim Kazi Marriage Certificate of Omesha Bibi dated April 15, 1983, the Gaon Bara Certificate from Haribhanga Village, West Gharo Hills, Meghalaya. It took the CJP team eleven months to finally get the Order that declared Omesha Bibi an Indian citizen by the FT.

Not only the collection and filing of such disparate documents but the physical presence of so many Defence Witnesses for a hapless woman, that too from Meghalaya a fair distance away shows the demands made on the CJP Team to ensure a successful outcome for Omesha Bibi.

The Order declaring her an Indian was passed on April 10, 2023.

The Order may be read here:

June 20, 2023

Taijuddin Ali

Taijuddin Ali, a 49 year-old, physically challenged person from the Salabila village under Bongaigaon district was not also spared from the Foreigner Tribunal of Assam. “Suspected” of being an “illegal immigrant” Taijuddjn, who has 60% of disability and cannot easily move anywhere was taxed by the authorities to access and submit documents and evidence, difficult to obtain. With the support of CJP and its legal team, all the necessary documents were assembled to prove his Indian citizenship, a battle that took a gruelling two long years.

Taijuddin Ali is an Indian citizen by birth having been born to Kashem Ali and Surjiya Bibi in 1974 in a village which comes under the Bhandara police station area, which is now part of Manikpur in Bongaigaon district. He was born and raised in the same village. His father passed away in 1977, while his mother is alive. In 2005, Taijuddin married Sahera Bhanu and they have four children. Due to the erosion caused by floods from the Manas River around 1983, as is the case for many poverty ridden people in Assam, Taijuddin’s family was forced to relocate from Bhandara to Salabila, under the jurisdiction of Manikpur Police Station. They continue to reside in the village of Salabila with their family members. Taijuddin Ali’s citizenship was first called into question when he received a notice from the Assam border police alleging that he was a suspected foreigner who had entered India from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971. Again in Taijuddin’s case as in the case of countless others, this “notice” was served without even the mandatory visit of the investigating officer (IO) or authorities to Taijuddin’s residence; without recording his statement or that of any other witness. Besides, as in several such cases, crucial documents including Taijuddin’s passport etc. were neither seized nor submitted as evidence to support the claim that he was a foreign national.

Further adding to the many shortcoming on behalf of the authorities, it was noted that the legal action taken against Taijuddin had lapsed due to the huge delay. For a while the case had initially been registered in the year 2000 Taijuddin received a notice only in 2021 after over two decades of inactivity.

Yet despite these lapses on the side of Indian (Assamese) officialdom, Taijuddin’s battle for justice came at a high personal cost. Suffering from severe health issues, including a 60% disability, he struggled to take care of his family of seven members. His income was also derived from a small paan shop at the local market further decreased as his health deteriorated which ended up forcing him to beg to make ends meet.

Despite the challenges, Taijuddin Ali was determined to fight for his rights. With the support of CJP and its legal team, he assembled all the necessary documents to prove his Indian citizenship and this struggle ended in a long-awaited victory and on September 21, 2023, the judgement declaring him an Indian citizen was handed over to him by CJP Assam’s state in-charge Nanda Ghosh and CJP’s legal team member Advocate Dewan Abdur Rahim on behalf of CJP.

The Order is dated June 20, 2023.

Seje Bala Ghosh

Order passed on November 4, 2023

A breakthrough also came from the Bongaigaon Foreigner Tribunal in November 2023. This was the case of a now 70 year-old widow, Seje Bala Ghosh who’s case had made news in 2020 since she had been served a foreigners’ notice by the Foreigners’ Tribunal, Bongaigaon. Being the daughter of a valiant freedom fighter, her father Lt. Digendra Chandra Ghosh, was a freedom fighter who corresponded with Chandra Shekhar Azad during the Indian independence movement and her mother had donated a huge sum to the Indian National Security Fund after selling her property, the now widowed Seje Bala had to suffer the indignity and trauma of “proving her citizenship” before the Foreigners’ Tribunal on March 21, 2020. Ironically, her father, Digendra Ghosh, was a refugee who moved to Assam from the Sherpur town in the erstwhile Maymonshing district of what was then called East Pakistan. According to the refugee registration certificate dated March 7, 1951, Digendra Chandra Ghosh, son of Padma, has been duly registered as refugee along with his four other family members. The refugee certificate bears the official seal and is signed by Deputy Commissioner of the then Goalpara District of Assam. Yet the ordeal for Seje Bala.

The intricate details of Seje Bala Ghosh’s battle for justice, aided by CJP’s team in Assam over three years may be read here.

The Order along with the actual order declaring her Indian by the Foreigners Tribunal in November 2023 may be read here:

Other success stories for CJP

Sher Ali:

Sher Ali son of Lt.  Jahad Ali (@ Jahadali Sheikh @ Jahad Ali Sheikh) of Village no 2  Kawadi under Manikpur police station of Bongaigaon district, Assam is another victim of the citizenship crisis in which, in 2023, CJP battled his case before the Bongaigaon Foreigners Tribunal and finally ensured he was declared Indian in April, 2023. The order is still awaited.

Sher being the only earner of the family always worked hard to run the family. He was also ill for a long time. It was during this time that he was served with a notice to appear and defend himself in the court. It was a huge challenge for him to face and fortuitously due to CJP’s vast network and credibility, the three year long legal battle bore fruit. This is the fate of many marginalised groups, especially religious minorities, in Assam. For this case, we submitted certified copies of several documents from decades back, the year 1966. Along with these other documents, he has also submitted the Ration Card authorised by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) through which his advocate did his best to establish his linkage with the Ration Card.

Jamila Bibi:

Jamila Bibi @ Jamila Khatun aged about 52 years, is the wife of Sher Ali of No 2 Kawadi village under Manikpur police station of Bongaigaon Distict, Assam. CJP contested her case before foreigners’ tribunal and finally declared Indian by Bongaigoan FT on November 10, 2023. Her husband had been declared Indian in April 2023. The case had started in 2019 and for four long years the sword of statelessness hung over her existence.

In her defence, with the CJP team, she argued that she was the born in India and her father has well proven documents from voter list of 1966. Their names were recorded in the voter list from the Balarpet village Bongaigaon district. These, along with all land document were submitted along with several copies of certified copies of electoral rolls (in which she is a registered voter) of different years.  Finally, after an arduous and rigorous battle she was declared India,

Ramjan Ali:

Ramjan Ali (@Habijuddin son of Lt. Mulukchand Ali) and Hajera Khatun, who is about 55 years from Dangshiapara village under Bijni police station of Chirang District is also one of CJP’s success stories. CJP contested his case before Chirang Foreigners Tribunal and was finally declared Indian on March, 2023.

Ramjan was born in the year 1974 at the Malibheta village under than Kokrajhar now Chirang district. His father shifted from village Daranga to Malibheta in the year 1972 for a better livelihood. Shockingly some radical groups from Assam burnt their houses into ashes. Even through this tragedy, he saved the documents that ultimately helped establish his citizenship! It was then that they had taken shelter out of compulsion at a Government refugee camp for five-six years. Later they shifted to a refugee camp at Bangaldoba where they have stayed till 2010. Thereafter they shifted to their present village of residence.

Sarathi Arjya:

Sarathi Arjya @ Saruti Bala Arjya @ Saroti Arjya, born in No 2 Daranga, D/O- Lt. Subal Arjya @ Subal Chandra Arjya and  Rani Bala Das @ Rani Bala Arjya , W/O- Chandra Kumar Arjya @ Chandra Kanta Arjya of Jaraguri village under Manikpur police station Bongaigaon district Assam.  CJP contested her case before foreigners’ tribunal and finally declared Indian by Chirang FT in July, 2023.

Apart from all the troubles of this legal battle, this family has had to suffer from the worst flood condition in the village. Every year the village was inundated with water and life’s normal cycle paused for a few months. Summons to the t tribunal never stopped for helpless Sarathi, however. After two years of tribulations, and the sheer perseverance of team CJP, the strong will power of Sarathi justice was hers when she was declared Indian!

Ashad Ali and Rofikul Islam

Ashad and Rofikul, both brothers, are residents of Goalpara district of Milan Nagar village under Bhalukdubi Revenue village of Goalpara Police station. Both were targeted by the state in the name of citizenship. Their whole family has to suffer the tragedy on the issue. Their parents Ramila (step mother) and Lt. Jainudin SK has undergone through the same challenge.

Sadly, it was while Ramila was fighting her first case with the help of the CJP team, she was served a second FT notice in her name with all the other names of her family members i.e. her late husband and two sons Arshad and Rafikul. The family faced another round of trauma and huge mental pressure for the case. CJP’s team also appeared for the second notice and fought both cases parallel. After a long legal battle CJP won the first case which was only against Ramila. Later, in the second case, it was this judgement that was delivered on February 2, 2023, by which she was declared as Indian that was submitted in the second case and the CJP advocate argued the case in lines of the first. The first judgment which declared Ramila as Indian helped her son Ashad and Rafikul to also secure their fate as Indian on October 19, 2023. In the case of her husband, Jahanuddin Shaikh, the advocate submitted the death certificate to the tribunal.

Guwahati High Court setback

Meanwhile, on November 21, 2023, the entire jurisprudence painfully developed by victims of the citizenship crisis and legal aid groups like CJP received a setback with the Guwahati HC, while noting discrepancies in orders by Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) directed “reviews” by the state government. This judgement could give vicarious powers to a state, already in the doc for an insensate attitude to the mammoth humanitarian crisis.

A bench comprising Justices Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Mitali Thakuria not only addressed Ali’s request for a review of the aforementioned Bongaigaon Tribunal’s ruling, but it also provided a severely critical assessment of the Foreigners Tribunal system, particularly its rather scattered operational procedures. Given this, the court instructed the Assam government to examine situations in which the Foreigners Tribunals determined an applicant’s nationality or immigration status without conducting a thorough study of the supporting documentation.

The aforementioned High Court ruling may have a further negative effect on the already suffering people of Assam, the majority of whom are being singled out due to their religious beliefs. While the High Court correctly observed there to be inconsistencies in the orders of the Tribunals, the ones on trial will now have to endure an additional round of bureaucratic scrutiny in addition to proving their Indian citizenship in these Tribunals. This step, especially in terms of the visible biasness showcased by this executive authority on many occasions, has created another loop of legal arbitrariness for the ones put to trial as well as those who have already sustained the trial as the High Court has granted the Assam government the power to “review”.


At the heart of the problem is a problematic base.

Despite the passage of seven decades since the independence of the country, the debate on citizenship is far from over. The recent engagement with the construction of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam, has again opened the flood gates of contestation on the citizenship question. Cardinal to this debate is the invocation of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 which are seen as the pillars for both the detection and deportation of immigrants. This analysis intends to examine some provisions of the legislations and in particular, Section 9 of the Act.

The Foreigners Act, 1946, a pre-independence era legislation was enacted for regulating the entry, presence and departure of foreigners into and from  India, section 2(a) of the Act defining a ‘foreigner’ to mean a person who is not a citizen. But, it is important to note that the Act, per-se does not prescribe any methodology for detection or any mechanism for identification of foreigners which makes the role of the foreigners’ tribunal cardinal to the understanding of the Act.

The formation of tribunals for the identification of foreigners only finds strength from the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964 issued in exercise of powers under section 3 of the Act. The said order however, primarily leaves the procedure to be adopted for disposal of the proceedings to the discretion of the members. For a long time now, tribunals have been formed for the detection of perceived foreigners in the state of Assam, persons who are charged with illegally living in the state, perhaps for decades.

In actual fact, these ‘so called’ foreigners are mostly faceless human beings, without any apparent record of their “infiltration”. They are “charged” with having infiltrated predominantly from a specified territory, i.e. the present day Bangladesh. This charge is based on their ethnic character and their linguistic back ground even though such a similarity of both language and ethnicity is found from both sides of the border – in Assam/Bengal and Bangladesh. These ‘facts’ makes their ‘detection’ apparently more complex. These people, according to popular perception have entered India crossing the supposedly porous borders and have intermingled with the citizens of the country. We must remember, however that the borders are not entirely open and do not permit free entirely free access.

Section 9 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 has a very important bearing on the determinations made under the Act. In a nutshell, it stipulates that in a case not falling under section 8 of the Act, when there arises a question as to whether a person is a foreigner or not, the onus of proving that the person is not a foreigner is on the person concerned. Section 8 deals with the issue of determination of the nationality of two categories of foreigners (i) those having more than one nationality, (ii) those of uncertain nationality, by the central government. Section 9, therefore, by implication, excludes cases under section 8 and appears to pertain to foreigners, whose specific foreign nationality is attributable with a certain amount of certainty, but where the said foreigner disputes the allegation that he is a foreign national and claims to be citizen.

It is important to note that by definition the term ‘foreigner’ appears in Section 2 (a) of the Act, and means “a person who is not Indian Citizen”. Thus ‘foreigners’ in context of the statute appear to mean foreigners i.e. those who are not Indian citizens –on the face of it — without any requirement of elaborate exercise at identification, which becomes conspicuous by the absence of any detection machinery in the Act. It is also relevant to note that Section 9 does not deal with any question as to whether a person is an Indian Citizen or not, unlike Section 3(8) of the Immigration Act, 1971 which specifically refers to determination of a question as to whether a person is a British Citizen or not.  This distinction though very subtle can have wide-ranging ramifications on the scope and manner of application of the Act in question.

Read the entire article by an expert here arguing why Section 9 of the Act needs to be re-visited.



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