Gauhati HC Comes to Rescue of Man Declared 'Foreigner' in Spite of Inclusion in 2 Voters' Lists

The court called the Jorhat Foreigners' Tribunal's order a 'perversity'.

New Delhi: The Gauhati high court has denounced as ‘perversity’ an order by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Assam’s Jorhat, which had ruled that a man whose name had appeared in voters’ lists of 1985 and 1989 was a foreigner.

In its report, The Indian Express has noted Mohammad Iddrish Ali, who has been in a Jorhat detention camp since September 21, 2019, had submitted 11 documents to the foreigners’ tribunal. These included the voters’ lists of the above two years, which bore his name, along with those of 1965 and 1970, which had his father and uncle’s names.

However, the court had not been convinced and had pointed out that if Ali had been born in 1953, as he has claimed, then his name should have appeared in the 1975 voters’ list.

Also read: D Voter, De-Nesting and Despair: The ‘D Company’ of Assam

“We have no doubt that the Tribunal has committed an error while appreciating Exhibits 6 & 7 [voters’ lists of 1985 and ‘89],” Gauhati high court Justices Manojit Bhuyan and P.J. Saikia said in their order.

Ali can now apply for bail.

Ali reportedly, is originally a resident of Nagaon village but moved to Golaghat with his family after a flood submerged the Dhing village in 1983.

Being declared a D-voter is a common action preceding the final act of detention by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. The process itself is mired in arbitrary decisions. In many cases, like Ali’s, the particular geography of the Brahmaputra Valley makes it impossible for residents to prove their citizenship considering that their homes are inundated by floods often.

Also read: Floods and NRC: A Toss up Between Life and Citizenship

As many as 19,06,657 people in Assam were excluded from the final updated National Register of Citizens published on August 31. According to the May 30 amendment to the Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order, 1964, they are to file an appeal within the stipulated 120 days at the nearest Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT), a quasi-judicial body, to claim that they are Indian citizens.