Gauhati High Court tells Immigrant of East Pakistan to apply for citizenship under CAA

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Gauhati High Court has kept down the order of a Foreigner's Tribunal in Assam which had declared a person who had migrated from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as a foreigner and asked him to apply for citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The order was passed in the judgement to a writ petition filed by Bablu Paul alias Sujit Paul of Karimganj district of Assam by a High Court Bench comprising Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Malasri Nandi.

"...They were given refugee status by the Government of India as (is) clearly evident from the certificate issued by the Government of West Bengal to the members of the minority community in East Pakistan desiring to stay in India," the order said.

According to the petitioner, his grandfather had entered through West Bengal but thereafter settled in Assam and his name appeared in the voters' list of the state in 1966. He died later.

The Tribunal also noted that the petitioner had studied upto class five in Gandhi Colony Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Kolkata and after attaining his majority was engaged in the jewelry business at Jadavpur area of that city.

The two-judge bench mentioned its inability to declare Paul as an Indian citizen as claimed by him as he was not born in this country but in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and entered India in 1964.

The High Court said that as the petitioner did not enter Assam but West Bengal and also as he has not been a resident of Assam after his date of entry in 1964, he cannot get the benefit of deemed citizenship under Section 6A(2) of the Citizenship Act, 1955. "Under such circumstances, the question which arises is, whether the petitioner will be declared a foreigner, in which event, he will be liable to be deported also," it said. 

The bench then pointed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), which said any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, shall not be treated as an illegal migrant. Such immigrants are also exempted from the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, the Foreigners Act, 1946, and any rule or order made thereunder, it added.

Generally, Mr. Paul had come to India from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) sometime in the year 1964 along with his father and grandfather and he stayed in Calcutta till 1984, when he came to Assam thereafter and settled there. Paul's family were given refugee status by the Government of India and a certificate in this regard was issued by the Government of West Bengal to them, which was meant for the members of the minority community in East Pakistan desiring to stay in India.

Therefore, the Court held that he can get the benefit of citizenship if he applies for citizenship by way of registration under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 as he fulfills the conditions mentioned under Section 5.