Chaini Parwani –
Published On: November 10, 2021 at 20:04 IST
The Gauhati High Court observed that a man in Assam being declared a ‘Foreigner’ for 20 years is enjoying all the Rights and Privileges of Being a Citizen, including the Right to Vote, stating that the State Authorities were ‘Oblivious’.
Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Malasri Nandi stated in the Order passed on November 3rd that “From the documents annexed by the Petitioner, it appears that the Petitioner had been casting his vote…continuously from 1970 to till date, thus virtually enjoying all the Rights and Privileges of being a Citizen.”
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by Jagat Ghosh in Central Assam’s Nagaon district, that argued the Foreigners Tribunal’s Verdict, which declared him a Foreigner in 1999 under the ‘Streamline Foreigner’ category.
A ‘Streamline Foreigner’ or ‘Foreigners of Stream’, is somebody who came to India between 1st January, 1966, and 24th March 1971, and is residing in Assam.
As per Clause 5 of the Assam Accord, the person needs to enroll with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), which is in every District’s administrative office.
It was noted that once a person is proclaimed by a Foreigners Tribunal or Court as a Streamlined Foreigner, the person is not evicted but he is ‘Disenfranchised’ for 10 years, and not allowed to cast a vote.
Though, a person can apply for Citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955, which guarantees other rights accorded to the citizens, the names of these individuals are eliminated from the electoral rolls for 10 years.
Back in 1999, the Tribunal in its view didn’t find any authentication suggesting that Mr. Ghosh had arrived in Assam prior to 1st January 1966.
Mr. Ghosh, in the Petition he filed at the Gauhati High Court, prayed that due to his Negligence, he did not get registered as a foreigner even after the Tribunal passed the Notification.
Further, Anita Verma, Special Counsel of Foreigners Tribunal, at the High Court interrogated, “The crux is despite being a declared foreigner, how did the family manage to vote and enjoy all benefits of an Indian citizen? Why did the police not arrest them till date and how come the Election Commission of India was not informed?”