At a time when the Assam government has directed Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs) to refrain from passing any “consequential orders on a person’s nationality”, an FT recorded the NRC as the “final NRC” while declaring a man to be Indian.
The Assam government in an order on September 4 directed the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs), which adjudicate citizenship in the state, to stick to giving “opinion” on a person’s nationality, as mandated by the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.
The Registrar General of India is also yet to issue a notification on Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) declaring it as a legal document,
According to a media report, Sishir Dey, the member of FT-II in Karimganj while hearing a case against one Bikram Singha of Jamirala village, whose name figured in the NRC list, said, “…there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC.”
The Foreigners’ Tribunals, set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1964, are quasi-judicial bodies that adjudicate citizenship in Assam.
FTs are the last recourse for the 19 lakh people whose names were dropped from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the final list of which was published on August 31, 2019.
Apart from the cases of people, who were dropped out from the NRC list, the FTs have also been adjudicating cases of ‘doubtful voters’ and other references made by the Border Police in Assam.
As per the report, the Border wing of Assam Police in May 2008 filed a case against Bikram Singha, a resident of Jamirala village under Patherkandi Assembly constituency in Assam’s Karimganj district.
Singha, who was marked as a ‘doubtful voter’, remained untraced until June 28 and appeared before the Foreigners’ Tribunal-II (FT-II) in Karimganj town two months later, seeking time to return from Bengaluru, where he was working.
To prove his citizenship, Singha produced a number of documents before the Foreigners Tribunal-II.
The documents included a 1968 land deed in the name of his grandfather Madan Kumar Singha and proof of his father Bharat Chandra Singha, an Indian Air Force employee for 29 years since 1972.
FT-II member Dey heard the case of Singha on September 1.
The prosecution lawyer reportedly argued that Singha had no document to establish that his family was residing in India prior to 1966.
Dey noted that Singha’s documents indicate that his father and grandfather were residents of Jamirala village even before 1968.
He did not have documents to prove that they were residents of Assam prior to 1966 (the year of the first amendment to the Citizenship Act).
The FT-II member observed that Singha’s name was listed in the NRC the preparation of which was monitored by the Supreme Court on the basis of the Citizenship Act of 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
“…final NRC… has been published on 31.08.2019 which is available online on the official website of NRC Assam wherein also it’s referred and mentioned as ‘Final NRC’. This legal position is still in force. The National Identity Cards have yet to be issued to the citizens whose names have been included in Final NRC. But there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC,” the order issued by the FT-II member said.
“I am of the considered opinion that the Opposite Party (Singha) is not a foreigner but a citizen of India,” the order further said.