Gauhati HC Orders Interim Bail of Ex-Army Subedar Sanaullah

He will likely be released from the Goalpara detention centre on Saturday.

New Delhi: The Gauhati high court on Friday granted interim bail to retired army subedar Mohammad Sanaullah, who was sent to a detention centre in Assam on May 29 after a special tribunal held him a foreigner on May 23.

According to Aman Wadud, the high court lawyer hired by Sanaullah’s family to file a writ petition on June 1 against the Tribunal order, “Sanaullah is most likely to be released from detention tomorrow.”

A division bench of the court, led by Justice Manojit Bhuyan, however, said that Sanaullah’s appeal to the court against the Foreigner’s Tribunal order would continue.

The order said:

“We have heard the counsels for the parties and have also perused the materials as available. On such perusal and pending return of notice we are inclined to grant interim bail to the applicant to the extent that the superintendent of police (Border) Kamrup, shall take steps to release the applicant from his detention at Goalpara detention centre, subject to the applicant furnishing bail bond of Rs 20,00 with two local sureties of the like amount.”

The court also said that after release, he would not move out of the territorial jurisdiction of Kamrup and Kamrup (Metro) “without prior information and approval of the SP (Border), Kamrup”.

Before release, “the biometrics of the iris of both eyes, the fingertips of both hands and photograph of the petitioner shall be obtained”.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising along with two other counsels appeared for Sanaullah.

The court has also issued notices to the state and Central governments, the defence ministry, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) authority, Chandramal Das, the investigating officer of Border Police official who probed the case before filing an FIR in the Boko police station under Kamrup (Rural) district in 2008. The notices are returnable by four weeks.

Based on Das’s FIR, Sanaullah was declared a doubtful voter or a suspected foreigner in 2008. It led Sanaullah to approach the district border police to get a notice issued in the case so that the designated Foreigners’ Tribunal could hear him. The tribunal, however, declared him a foreigner, following which he was sent to the Goalpara detention centre on May 23.

That Sanaullah was declared a foreigner despite serving in the Army for about 30 years till 2017, and that he was also hired by the state Border Police just a month ago as an assistant sub-inspector after due checks, made his case sensational.

Also Read: India’s Looming Crisis of Citizenship: A Paradox of Protection and Power

The investigating officer Das later told a local news channel that the Sanaullah he met in 2008 and recorded his statement was not the same person he saw on the news. On one of the dates mentioned in the IO’s report, Sanaullah was in Manipur as part of an anti-insurgency operation.

The three witnesses whom the IO claimed to have met in 2008 have since filed an FIR against him at the Boko police station, situated about 60 km from state capital Guwahati. They claim that their signatures were forged on the report as they never met him. They also said there was no other Sanaullah in Kalahikash village other than the retired subedar.

After the media reported Sanaullah’s case, the army’s Directorate of Sainik Welfare offered legal help to the family. However, by then, the family had already hired Wadud. On June 7, though, senior Delhi-based advocate Indira Jaising appeared before the high court. Media reports said Jaising offered to fight his case pro bono.