Declared a foreigner, Assam woman regains Indian citizenship after Gauhati HC intervention

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Declared a foreigner, Assam woman regains Indian citizenship after Gauhati HC intervention

A woman from Assam’s Cachar district who was declared a foreigner by the Foreigner Tribunal after missing tribunal hearings, has finally got her Indian citizenship after Gauhati High Court intervention.

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Sefali Rani Das, a resident of Mohankhal village under Sonai police station in Cachar district, was declared a foreigner in 2017 in an ex-parte judgement by a member (judge) of Silchar’s Foreigners’ Tribunal as her lawyer didn’t appear before the court on the days of hearing.

However, the 2017 order given by the Foreigners’ Tribunal was challenged in the Gauhati High Court in 2018 and Sefali got another chance to prove her Indian citizenship.

Assam woman declared foreigner after missing hearings

Global Tech News Daily

A case was filed against Sefali in the Foreigners’ Tribunal- 6 Silchar questioning her citizenship. The tribunal sent Sefali a notice, asking her to appear before the tribunal with necessary documents to prove her Indian citizenship.

She appeared before the court and appointed a lawyer to support her, following which the tribunal gave her dates.

Global Tech News Daily

But her lawyer failed to appear before the tribunal to face the cross-examination on February 20, 2017, March 3, 2017, May 26, 2017 and September 11, 2017 without any steps and the reference was proceeded ex-parte against Sefali declaring her as foreigner by the tribunal on September 19, 2017.

Woman challenges court order

Sefali had challenged the 2017 tribunal order in the Gauhati High Court in 2018 and the High court on July 20 last year.

“Citizenship being a very important right of a person, should ordinarily be decided on merit rather than by way of default as has happened in the present case and, as such, under the circumstances as discussed above, we allow the petitioner to appear before the learned Tribunal again to prove her case that she is a citizen of this country and not a foreigner.

The impugned order dated September 19, 2017 passed by the learned Member, Foreigners’ Tribunal 6th, Silchar, Assam in F.T. 6th Case No.404/2015 is set aside. The petitioner will appear before the Foreigners’ Tribunal within a period of one month from today,” said the Gauhati High Court order.

Woman gains Indian citizenship after Gauhati High Court intervention

Foreigners’ Tribunal 6, Silchar Member (judge) Dharmananda Deb accordingly heard the case again and declared Sefali an Indian citizen, not a foreigner, on January 17 this year.

“Sefali Rani Das has successfully proved her case by adducing cogent and admissible evidence. She has clearly been able to establish the fact of presence of her grandfather on Indian soil, relatable to the period prior to March 3, 1971 with valid linkage documents of her father as well as herself in accordance with law,” Dharmananda Deb, the member (judge) of the tribunal, wrote in his opinion.

Sefali claimed that her grandfather Durlabram Das entered India from the then East Pakistan in 1950 due to religious persecution and took shelter at Choto Dudpati grant under Silchar police station and thereafter, he shifted to Mohankhal village along with other members of his family and settled there.

READ MORE| Assam NRC: Gauhati High Court turns down tribunal order declaring man as foreigner

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