February 20: There are a number of instances where people are put in the Detention Camps on the basis of the judgement delivered by the Foreigners’ Tribunal. Along with it, there are instances of ex parte judgment by the Foreigners’ Tribunal, following which people have to languish in the jails, termed as ‘Detention Camps.’ The case of 102 years old Chandradhar Das, a resident of Borai Basti under Dholai constituency in the Amraghat area of Cachar district is one such glaring instance.
Many of them being poor or illiterate fail to knock the doors of High Court, leave aside Supreme Court. Justice seems to be a distant hope for a major chunk of the populace who are primarily residents of rural area having little or no access to education. Families who fail to manage two square meals a day cannot even dare to dream of approaching the Supreme Court. But history is witness to the fact that once any aggrieved person could knock the doors of the apex court, he/she was served with fair justice.
One such instance is that of one Sirajul Hoque, who hails from Assam’s Dhubri district. Sirjaul Hoque was declared a foreigner by a Foreigners’ Tribunal and this judgement was upholded even by the High Court. Sirajul Hoque was denied Indian citizenship on the ground of discrepancy in the name of his grandfather. He was put up in a Detention Camp in Assam.
Sirajul Hoque’s grandfather’s name was shown as Keftullah instead of Kematullah in some documents which led to the Foreigner’s Tribunal declaring him a foreigner. Also, that his grandfather and father later lived in different villages was an additional ground for Tribunal’s conclusion. Ultimately, Sirajul Hoque filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of India.
The apex court observed, “On a perusal of the same, we find that a number of documents have been relied upon by the appellant starting with a voters’ list of his grandfather Kematullah in villge Sotobashjani. There is no doubt that the great grandfather’s name Amtullah appears as Amtullah throughout the document. Equally, there is no doubt about the father’s name which appears as Hakim Ali throughout. The only discrepancy found is that in some of the documents Kefatullah later becomes Kematullah. However, what is important to note is that his father’s name Amtullah continues as Amtullah and the other family members associated continued as such.”
A bench of the apex court comprising of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Vineet Saran noted that character ‘F’ was replaced with ‘M’ in his grandfather’s name in some of the documents. The SC bench noticed that he had relied on several documents to support his claim. The bench also noticed that he was issued a PAN card by the Income Tax Department in 1981. He also had a photo identity card issued by the Election Commission, and his name was included in the voter’s list.
Finally, the Supreme Court bench quashed the order of both the Foreigners’ Tribunal and the Gauhati High Court, and allowed the appeal of Sirajul Hoque. As such, the Bench observed:”As a result thereof, the appellant is liable to be set free at once.” Thus, the apex court restored the Indian citizenship of Sirajul Hoque.