Gauhati HC overturns FT’s order declaring a resident of Assam as Foreigner

While quashing the order, the bench observed that the Tribunal did not appropriately consider the material on record


On January 17, the Gauhati High Court overturned a ruling given by the Foreigners Tribunal, designating a resident of Assam as a foreigner, noting that the Foreigners Tribunal failed to consider the evidence that was on file when making its determination in the said case

According to the division bench of the High Court, comprising of Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Justice Arun Dev Choudhury, the petitioner had effectively established a link with his mother and father, and thus he could not be held a foreigner. The bench made this determination based on the petitioner’s mother’s deposition and other material on record.

Facts of the case

Jamir Ali is aged about 40 years and works as a carpenter. He was referred to the Foreigners Tribunal 1st at Nagaon for a determination as to whether he entered India after March 24, 1971. This led to the registration of FT Case No. 252/2009. He was classified as a foreigner “who had entered the State of Assam later to 24.03.1971” by the Tribunal in June 2018.

Deposition by Haliman Nessa: Ali had examined his mother Haleman Nessa who was about 80 years at the time of rendering the evidence. She in her deposition stated that Ali is her son and her entire family including the children are all Indians. She provided that after the death of her husband, while the petitioner was in her womb, she shifted from Goriomari village and went back to her paternal home in Shillongoni along with her 3 children. She also stated that the petitioner Jamir Ali was born at village Shillongoni. She said no other case questioning the citizenship is pending against her family members. (Para 3)

Other evidence relied upon: The petitioner presented a voter’s list from 1965 for the Goroimari village in which Haliman Nessaz’s name appeared at Sl. No. 98, indicating that her husband was Abbas Ali. Additionally, the petitioner displayed the 1993 voters’ list for the village of Shillongoni, which lists his name at Sl. No. 87 and names his father as Abbas Ali. The petitioner also displayed the village of Shillongoni’s 1993 voter list, which lists Rustom Ali at Sl. No. 86, indicating that his father was Abbas Ali. The name of Haleman Nessa, the late Abbas Ali’s wife, is likewise shown on the 1993 voter list for the village of Shillongoni at Sl. No. 85. (Para 4)

Decision of the Court

The petitioner’s mother testified in court that she and her three children—Rustom Ali, Jamir Ali, and Sahar Ali—had moved to the village of Shillongoni after the death of their husband. The court ruled that this establishes a link of the petitioner with the family.

“The voters’ list of 1993 of village Shillongoni shows the name of the mother of the petitioner Haleman Nessa, showing her husband to be Abbas Ali as well as that of his elder brother Rustom Ali showing his father to be Abbas Ali and that of the petitioner again showing his father’s name to be Abbas Ali.” (Para 7)

The court also observed that Haleman Nessa’s name appears on the Goroimari Village voter list from 1965, along with the name of her husband, Abbas Ali.

“The aforesaid materials clearly establish the link of the petitioner with that of Abbas Ali of Goroimari whose name appeared in the 1965 voters’ list of the same village”  (Para 8)

Furthermore, the Bench stated that the state authorities had not refuted the petitioner’s mother’s testimony during her cross-examination before the Foreigner’s Tribunal in an effort to dispute her claim that the petitioner is her son, whose father passed away while he was still in the womb.

“Upon perusal of the order/opinion of the learned Tribunal it is noticed that the aforesaid materials on record have not been taken note of while declaring that the petitioner is a foreigner who had entered the State of Assam subsequent to 24.03.1971.” (Para 10)

The High Court bench then finally held quashed the judgment of the Foreigner’s Tribunal.

“As we have arrived at the clear conclusion that the petitioner has established his link with Abbas Ali whose name appeared in the voters’ list of 1965 of Goroimari village and the materials through which the link was established have not been taken note by the learned Tribunal, we accordingly, set aside the order/opinion dated 29.06.2018 in FT Case No. 252/2009 of the Foreigners Tribunal 1st at Nagaon, Assam and declare that it cannot be held that the petitioner is a foreigner who had entered the State of Assam subsequent to 24.03.1971.” (Para 11)

The complete order may be read here.

CJP’s efforts in restoring citizenship to people declared Foreigners

CJP’s team in Assam has been deeply involved in the helping the citizens of Assam, who are wrongly accused of being foreigners in their own country, prove their citizenship.  CJP’s Assam team has soldiered on to defend the rights of some of the most marginalized people in the state over the years. From engaging with the state authorities to ensure that quality level legal aid reaches people through the taluka and District Level Statutory Legal Authorities (DLSAs), fighting legal battles in the Foreigner’s Tribunals to providing Legal and Para Legal training workshop, CJP’ Assam team has been raging on with the aim of helping people retain their citizenship and dignity.

A round-up of work done by CJP in Assam in the year 2022 can be read here.



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