Shillong, May 21: Meghalaya High Court has reiterated that those who came to India on or before March 24, 1971, would not be sent back to Bangladesh, but those who came after the stipulated date would have to be deported to the neighbouring country.
Justice Sudip Ranjan Sen delivered the judgment on May 15 following a petition filed by 40 individuals from Amjong village in Ri Bhoi district against the Meghalaya government, Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner, chief electoral officer, and census officials.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the petitioners were Indian citizens by birth as they were born and brought up within the Indian territory while stating that their forefathers came to India decades ago.
“But unfortunately, the names of these petitioners were not included in the electoral roll and their citizenship certificates issued by the Centre were seized by the Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner on the ground that they are doubtful Indian citizens,” the counsel submitted.
In his remarks, Justice Sen pointed out that it was an admitted fact that the forefathers of the petitioners came to India in 1961, and they have been allowed to rehabilitate temporarily.
“If it is so, definitely they have shifted to India prior to 1971,” Justice Sen said.
“On perusal of the contents of the affidavits, it is clear that there was an understanding between India and Bangladesh that those persons who came to India on or before March 24, 1971, will not be sent back to Bangladesh but those who came after the date will have to be deported to Bangladesh. If it is so, it is clearly understood that the forefathers of the petitioners entered India much before the date,” he added.
Therefore, Justice Sen contended that there was no question to deport the petitioners at this stage as they have acquired right of permanent rehabilitation in Amjong.
He also said the petitioners were no more Bangladeshi citizens, and there was no scope to order their deportation.
“In such circumstances, it is the duty of the Meghalaya government as well as the government of India to give them proper rehabilitation and not to disturb their citizenship,” the judge said.
Further, the court asked the Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner to return to the petitioners their citizenship certificates within a week from the date of receipt of the order.
The court directed that the petitioners be enrolled in the electoral rolls before the next elections.