Tribunal order against BSF man quashed

Photo: Gauhati High Court

The Gauhati High Court on Saturday quashed the judgment of a Foreigners' Tribunal in eastern Assam that declared a BSF assistant sub-inspector and his wife foreigners.

The tribunal in Jorhat in eastern Assam had pronounced an ex-parte judgment against Mujibur Rahman and his wife Jorjina Begum, residents of Mikirpatty in neighbouring Golaghat district, declaring them foreigners. 

The duo had moved the high court recently challenging the tribunal's ex-parte judgment and submitted documents as old as 1926. 

His lawyer, Nekibur Zaman said that Rahman, an Assamese Muslim, was posted in Punjab and came to know about his case in the tribunal, when he came home for Eid celebrations last month.

"A border police constable had pasted the notice in the residence of the village headman. Rahman was not aware of such a notice and he did not appear in the tribunal, which issued an ex-parte judgment and declared both (Rahman and his wife) foreigners. After hearing our appeal and going through the documents, the high court suspended the tribunal's order and asked him to submit the documents as a written statement in the tribunal within September 27. After the high court's order, they are no longer foreigners as declared by the tribunal," Zaman said.

"He belongs to a family of freedom fighter and names of other members of his family appeared in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) too," he said. 

Foreigners are being detected in Assam with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date and those failing to prove their Indian citizenship are declared foreigners by tribunals. Those losing their legal battle in the tribunal, however, can challenge the judgment in high court and the Supreme Court thereafter. 

There are 100 such tribunals in Assam at present and 200 more are being set up to deal with the petitions to be filed by over 19.06 lakh people, who were left out of the updated list of NRC released on August 31. 

Rahman had earlier said he would have settled the case in the tribunal itself if he had received the notice then.

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