Bail for woman declared 'foreigner'

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the release on bail of a woman, earlier declared an illegal migrant by a foreigners tribunal and Gauhati High Court, with an inquiry report prima facie holding that her biological relatives and husband were Indian citizens.

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 13.09.18
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the release on bail of a woman, earlier declared an illegal migrant by a foreigners tribunal and Gauhati High Court, with an inquiry report prima facie holding that her biological relatives and husband were Indian citizens.

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Sanjay Kishan Kaul passed the direction after an inquiry report, submitted to the top court by the Barpeta district superintendent of police, said the five persons who Sofiya Khatun claimed to be her biological brothers and her husband were citizens of India. Further it was established that parents of Sofiya are also Indian citizens.

The court said: "In response to the queries of the court, an affidavit has been filed by the deputy secretary, general administration department, government of Assam, annexing a report of the inquiry conducted by the superintendent of police, Barpeta, Assam..."

It said the inquiry, made on basis of documents on record, found that Nurul Haque, Matiur Rahman, Sirajul Haque, Monir Uddin and Osman Gonee, projected as the biological brothers of the "alleged foreigner/petitioner", and Fuljar Husain, projected as her husband, were Indian citizens. "These persons have filed affidavits in the present proceedings," the court added.

"About the projected parents of the alleged foreigner/petitioner herein, namely Lt Hasen Ali Munshi and Saburan Bibi, the inquiry was also made on basis of documents on record," it said.

The court said in its order: "The answering respondent (Assam government) wishes to point out that the inquiry finds that the said persons are Indian citizens on basis of their names appearing in 2018/2017 voter list, 1997 voter list, electoral photo-identity cards as well as the 1965 and 1970 voter lists in which the names of their projected parents, namely, Hasen Munshi and Saburan Bibi are included. Also, the report states about the statements of local villagers being recorded and concluded that the documents produced by them corroborates."

The court noted that the counsel for the respon-dent/state had submitted that this was not a full-fledged inquiry and permitted the state to conduct one. "We make it clear that it will be open to the state to conduct the full-fledged inquiry referring also to the materials now made available. However, the appellant is directed to be released on bail forthwith on self bond. The appellant shall report to the police station on the last working day of every month, as required by the superintendent of police, Barpeta, till the inquiry is completed."

Sofiya had earlier approached the apex court challenging her imminent deportation after the tribunal and the high court held that she was an illegal migrant.

Following this, on August 28, the apex court had asked the Assam government to furnish specific information on the following questions:

• Is it true that five brothers of the petitioner are citizens of India?

• Is it true that the husband of the petitioner is a citizen of India?

• Is it true that father and mother of the petitioner are citizens of India?

Pursuant to the direction, the Barpeta SP conducted an inquiry and submitted a report to the apex court.