Tribune News Service
Mumbai, February 20
A Mumbai court earlier this month ruled an election card of voter identification card was sufficient proof of citizenship.
Abbas Shaikh (45) and his wife Rabiya Khatoon Shaikh (40) were recently arrested by the city police on suspicion of being Bangladeshi nationals. They were charged with violating Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950 and Foreigners Act, 1946.
According to the police, the couple was arrested from the Reay Road neighbourhood after an informer provided information to the authorities that they were Bangladeshi nationals residing “illegally” in India.
Two police officials submitted before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate A H Khashikar that one Rabibul from the suburbs of Mankhurd, who was arrested on suspicion of being a Bangladeshi, named the couple as fellow migrants. While Rabibul subsequently escaped from police custody, the Shaikhs were picked up from their shanty at Reay Road, the policemen told the court.
The couple, however, denied that they were Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India. They produced several documents as evidence. While Abbas Shaikh produced his Aadhaar card, PAN card, election card, bank passbook, health card and ration card as proof of his Indian nationality, his wife produced her Aadhaar card, PAN card and election card.
The magistrate held that an election card or voter ID was sufficient proof of citizenship. “.....while applying for the election card or voting card a person has to file declaration with the authority in view of Form 6 of Peoples Representation Act to the authority that he is citizen of India and if the declaration is found false, he is liable for punishment. To my mind such a declaration is sufficient to prove the citizenship unless contrary is proved by the prosecution...,” the magistrate ruled.
The court added that Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving licence or ration card were not sufficient to prove citizenship of any person as these were not meant for the purpose of citizenship. However, documents like birth certificate, domicile certificate, bonafide certificate, passport, etc., in addition to the election card or voter identification card could be relied upon to establish the origin of any person.
While acquitting Abbas Shaikh and his wife Rabiya, the court ruled that the prosecution could not prove that the couple had produced fake documents to claim Indian citizenship.
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