Paralysed Assam man declared foreigner: SC asks Centre, Sonowal government to reply to plea
Azizul Hoque, who is lodged in a detention centre since March 24, 2017, was declared a foreigner by a tribunal in Assam in ex-parte proceedings as he failed to appear due to lower-limb paralysis.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Wednesday sought a response from the Centre and the Assam government on a plea of an imprisoned paralysed man who has been declared a foreigner by a tribunal and facing imminent deportation to Bangladesh.
Azizul Hoque, who is lodged in a detention centre since March 24, 2017, was declared a foreigner by a tribunal in Assam in an ex-parte proceedings as he failed to appear due to lower-limb paralysis, the petition said.
The tribunal and the Gauhati High Court declared Hoque, whose name figured in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam as a citizen, as foreigner on the ground that neither he nor his representative appeared before the tribunal, it said.
"Issue notice. Returnable within three weeks," said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and lawyer Anas Tanwir, appearing for Hoque, said that the Foreigners Tribunal and the high court both erred in holding that the man was an illegal foreigner needed to be deported.
"It is submitted that the High Court dismissed the Writ petition preferred by the Petitioner (Hoque) despite accepting the medical certificate, certifying him to be suffering from Lower limb paralysis. The name of the Petitioner along with his other family members appears in the draft NRC with ARN No," the plea said.
"It is most humbly submitted that the only ground on which a citizenship of the Petitioner was taken away was his inability to depute someone to appear in his stead before the Foreigners Tribunal," it said.
The Foreigners Tribunal declared Hoque to be a foreigner in an ex-parte order without even considering any evidence that may have created a doubt with regard to his citizenship, it said, adding that the panel did not even seek any evidence from the state.
Later, the tribunal dismissed the review plea and the high court concurred with the orders.
"Neither tribunal nor the high court appreciated that the Petitioner has produced 'jamabandi' documents in name of his grandfather issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Nagaon in year 1941-42 along with voter lists excerpts of 1965 showing name of his grandfather, grandmother, father and mother," it said.
The apex court is monitoring the finalisation of NRC in Assam and had already made clear that it will not extend the July 31 deadline for publication of the final Assam NRC.
The draft Assam NRC was published on July 30, 2018 in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included.
The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list.
Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.
The first draft of Assam NRC was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1 in accordance with the top court's direction.
Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state to have an NRC, first prepared in 1951.