Pan Card, Land Records Rejected by Gauhati High Court as Proof of Citizenship

Gauhati High Court
Image credit: www.siasat.com/AFP - See more at: http://southasiajournal.net/citizenship-amendment-bill-and-the-people-of-assam/

The country is presently seeing massive protests against the CAA and the NRC, and amidst the growing confusion and panic amongst the citizens, the Gauhati High Court has added to the worry of the people. 

The Gauhati High Court rejected a many as 15 fundamental documents and said that these could not be given as proof for one’s Indian citizenship. 

This list of 15 documents includes- voter list of four years, a parent’s NRC clearance, land revenue payment receipts, certificates from village headman attesting to permanent residency and marriage, ration card, PAN card and bank passbook. 

Providing just a glimpse into the challenges that the NRC exercise would bring for lakhs of Indians, the case of Jabeda Khatum is a reminder of how difficult it is to prove one’s citizenship if these critical documents aren’t accepted. 

Jabeda Begum of Guwahari village in Baksa district had submitted these documents to back her claim to citizenship after she was declared “a foreigner of post 1971 stream” by Foreigners Tribunal in May 2019. She lost her claim to Indian citizenship because the Gauhati High Court ruled that she “failed to prove her linkage with her projected parents and her projected brother”

In order to be considered an Indian citizen in Assam one has to prove either that he/she or their ancestors have been living in Assam before 1971, the Assam Accord cut-of date.

To make it to the NRC one was supposed to submit documents that established a pre-1971 ancestry. 

The final NRC list that had been prepared by the government has now been rejected by the Assam government. 

Two sets of documents were admissible to get oneself registered in the NRC, namely the list A and the list B. List A had documents establishing that the person of their ancestors lived in Assam prior to 1971(NRC of 1951,pre-1971 voter lists etc).

People born after 1971 could submit List B documents(PAN card, birth certificate etc) to link themselves to a pre-1971 ancestor.

Jabeda Begum’s lawyer said that the woman is quite poor and illiterate and despite submitting a number of documents, the court said that they were inadequate to prove her linkage to her parents. Despite submitting critical documents, Jabeda Begum failed to prove linkage to her parents and was finally denied Indian citizenship. 

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