On September 23, the Supreme Court ordered that no action be taken to deport a woman whose name was excluded from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) and who was designated a foreigner. The Supreme Court has sought comments from the Centre and the Assam government in response to the woman’s petition.
The woman who is contesting the Gauhati High Court’s judgment from June 2019 submitted a petition, and a bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli consented to hear her argument. As reported by LiveLaw, the bench ordered, “Issue notice returnable in three weeks. Till next date of listing no steps shall be taken for deportation of the petitioner.”
Advocate Pijush Kanti Roy, who was representing the woman, informed the judges that every member of her family had been granted Indian citizenship. However, the Foreigners Tribunal determined that she had entered the country unlawfully and ordered the authorities to take appropriate measures, according to Live Law. Advocate Pijush Kanti Roy with advocates Kalki Roy and Tushar Alok appeared for the petitioner. The petition was filed through advocate Rajan Chourasia.
The judges took this reasoning into account and decided to postpone the woman’s deportation until the next hearing of the case, which would take place three weeks. They also instructed the Center and the Assam government to submit replies to the petition.
About the case:
The petitioner received a notice from the Foreigner’s Tribunal, Bongaigaon, in the year 2012 inviting her to appear before it on February 19, 2013. The petitioner had submitted her written remarks and the necessary paperwork to prove her citizenship on May 20, 2013.
On June 4, 2015, the secretary of Kacheripety Gaon Panchayat, Bongaigaon, issued a Linkage Certificate confirming her relationship with her father and her husband. She failed to provide her affidavit-in-chief and supporting papers to meet her burden under Section 9. Additionally, her brother submitted an affidavit-in-chief to the tribunal, attesting to the petitioner’s sisterhood and attesting to her marriage to her spouse.
On June 7, 2017, the panel dismissed the petitioner’s plea and determined that she had entered India illegally from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
The panel gave the Deputy Commission in Bongaigaon the go-ahead to take the necessary actions against the petitioner, such as removing her name from the electoral rolls.
The Guwahati High Court heard the appeal of the order. The High Court had admitted the plea and given the petitioner bail. Her name was not included in the NRC when it was released in 2018, despite the fact that her entire family had been given Indian citizenship.
On June 13, 2019, the high court rejected the case and revoked the temporary bail that had been given to the petitioner at the time of writ petition admission.
About the plea submitted before the Supreme Court:
According to the woman, who asserts that she is an Indian citizen by birth, the petitioner’s husband, parents, and siblings are all valid Indian nationals. The petitioner is an Indian citizen by birth, and the competent government has recognized every member of the petitioner’s family—including her parents and her in-laws—as an Indian citizen. However, it also stated that the woman had been wrongly labeled as a foreigner by the tribunal and the division bench of the Gauhati High Court without considering a number of displayed papers.
According to the plea, the petitioner’s name and the names of every member of her family were present in the draft NRC. However, all of her family members’ names—aside from her own—have been included in the final NRC released by the appropriate government, designating them as Indian citizens. The woman had submitted several documents proving her Indian citizenship, but neither the tribunal nor the Gauhati High Court accepted them and dismissed the woman’s plea, it said.
The order of the Supreme Court can be read here.
About the NRC and the current situation in Assam:
The controversial NRC, compiled finally in 2019 (August 31, 2019)has excluded as many as 19 lakh persons. Those rejected from the NRC, have three years down, not been served with reasons for the rejections. on. This exclusion of 1.9 million persons that include indiogenous persons, Dalits (Namoshudras) and Bengalis, both Muslim and Hindu, has left them potentially stateless unless proven otherwise.
As CJP’s onground work in Assam has shown, establishing one’s citizenship is an onerous task,. Even if a person possesses the necessary paperwork, they are still in a limbo since the Indian government has postponed the appeals procedure for anyone who has been denied citizenship due to the NRC. Given the linguistic and cultural differences between Assamese and Bengalis, the determination of citizenship in the state of Assam has long been a divisive political issue. The British imported Bengalis from the adjacent state of Bengal in the 19th century to labor the state’s rice fields. As a result of the massive migration of people over the border during the partition of India in 1947 and the establishment of Bangladesh in 1971, disputes over identity and citizenship have only grown. Some Assamese say that Bengalis from Bangladesh or other outsiders are currently residing on their land.
During the conduct of the NRC exercise, more than 32 million people’s paperwork had to be looked into, which cost 12.2 billion rupees and included 50,000 government employees. The Foreigners Tribunal, a quasi-judicial court, is the sole option for those who didn’t make the cut; failing to do so might result in imprisonment or expulsion. Assam launched a National Register of Citizens in August 2019 with the intention of separating Indian citizens from unauthorized immigrants residing in the state. Around 6% of Assam’s population, or more than 19 lakh people, were excluded from the final list of the National Register of Citizens.
The state administration claimed that the National Register of Citizens’ final draft was “faulty” and left out a number of Assamese indigenous people. Their pleas against exclusion were heard by Foreigners’ Tribunals. Those whose claims are denied risk being detained.
Assam’s NRC may have ethnic Bengalis as its main objective, but like with many other similar initiatives, its impacts have been disproportionately harmful to women and the poor. Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, a grassroots initiative by a national network of women from different backgrounds, visited Assam in November 2019. They discovered that the burden of producing documentation was significantly more difficult for women, who have historically been denied entitlements to land and lineage.
The predicament of Bhanu is only made worse by her financial situation. Bhanu reportedly remarked, “If [the police] come for me, I’ll tell my children to tell them I’m dead,” as quoted by the Foreign Policy Magazine. How will I provide for my family if I spend all of this money on legal expenses during the coronavirus, when no one has a job? Bhanu would not have to be arrested or go through the hassle of attempting to verify her citizenship because she was a “dead” person. However, it would also prevent her from ever using government social services, which is a right of every citizen. Even though 37 years have gone since the Assam Accord and Assam residents like Bhanu have suffered as a result, the government instead of letting the citizenship issue die down has decided to use it for political benefit.
Are these deportations a violations of law?
The aim, scope, and procedure of Article 21 are all extremely apparent. The resounding assertion that no individual in India—and we stress that there are no special advantages here for Indian nationals—can be deprived of their right to life and liberty without due process binds all duty-holders and citizens. With Bangladesh, there is no deportation agreement. According to international law, such deportations can only be carried out with the approval of the country of origin. Bangladesh has persistently refused to acknowledge that a significant portion of its population has migrated to India. In fact, Bangladesh sees these unilateral actions as detrimental to a bilateral relationship that is essential to the security and stability of both nations, particularly in our eastern area.
India also ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where its delegates were instrumental in crafting the terminology for equality, non-discrimination, and gender that is now widely accepted. Our obligations on a global scale on the rights of those impacted in such circumstances are quite obvious. Additionally, it would be intolerable for any Indian of any religious affiliation to suffer damage as a result of carelessness, intentional bias, unjust detention, or criminal prosecution. Failure to appropriately and fairly address this serious problem will be viewed worldwide as a flagrant violation of human rights and a stain on India’s reputation.