GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court while observing that citizenship is one of the most important rights of a person, set aside an ex parte Foreigners’ Tribunal order which declared an Assam women a foreigner, saying if any question arises about citizenship of a person, it should be adjudicated on the basis of merit on hearing the person concerned.
A division bench comprising justice N Kotiswar Singh and justice Soumitra Saikia, while hearing the petition filed by Rahima Khatun against the 2016 ex-parte order by the Foreigners’ Tribunal No. 1, Dhubri, by which she was declared as an illegal migrant.
The court said according to the petitioner, upon receiving the notice from the tribunal, the son of the petitioner appeared on her behalf without her knowledge. But the petitioner’s son neglected to appear before the tribunal on various dates, resulting in passing of the ex-parte order.
The court on perusal of the records observed that the tribunal passed the order without hearing the petitioner. “It is to be remembered that citizenship is one of the most important rights of a person. By virtue of citizenship, one becomes a member of a sovereign country and becomes entitled to various rights and privileges granted by law in the country and, as such, if any question arises about citizenship of a person, in our opinion, the same should be adjudicated as far as possible on the basis of merit and on hearing the person concerned,” the court order said, remanding the matter to the tribunal for reconsideration of the issue as to whether the petitioner is a foreigner or not.