Man Enjoys Citizenship Privilege In Assam Despite Being Declared Foreigner in 1999

GUWAHATI: A man from Assam named Jagat Ghosh has been enjoying all the rights and privileges of an Indian citizen including voting rights for over 20 years despite being declared as a foreigner in the year 1999.

The issue came to light in Gauhati High Court at the time of hearing of the petition of Jagat Ghosh challenging the verdict of a foreigners’ tribunal decision declaring him as a foreigner.

According to the foreigners’ tribunal, Ghosh is a resident of Lanka who lives in Nagaon district and entered into the state Assam between 1 January 1966, and 25 March 1971.

Following the Citizenship Act, 1955, whoever entered Assam between 1 January 1966, and 25 March 1971, and has been found to be foreigners needs to register themselves with the nearest authorities within 60 days. And if their names are included in electoral rolls the names will be removed for 10 years though they will be enjoying other rights granted to citizens. After ten years these people who were declared as foreigners can be declared Indians by including their names in the voters’ lists.

The foreigners’ tribunal has passed an ex parte order against Ghosh on 3 May 1999 as he failed to appear in person when called and failed to submit necessary documents as evidence to prove that he has entered Assam before 1 January 1966. Ghosh was then directed to get himself registered as a foreigner with the superintendent of police, Nagaon.

Ghosh claimed in his petition that he did not get registered at that time as a foreigner because the matter was ignored through the tribunal had already passed the order. He said that he approached the high court in 2020 after getting to know about the order by the tribunal in 2018.

In the order passed on 3 November by Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Malasri Nandi, they said that it is found from the documents annexed that the petitioner had been casting his vote since 1970 and enjoying all the rights and privileges of Indian citizens. They added that it is unfortunate that the state authorities detecting foreigners in the state were also unaware of the ex-parte order earlier passed by the Citizenship Law. The court dismissed the plea by ordering Ghosh to register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Officer in Nagaon within 60 days.

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