Maintaining that an electoral photo identity card or voter card is sufficient proof of citizenship, a court in Mumbai recently acquitted two persons accused of being “Bangladeshi infiltrators” by police.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate A H Kashikar on February 11 acquitted Abbas Shaikh and his wife Rabiya Khatoon Shaikh, who were booked for breach of passport rules. The court noted in its order that while Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving licence or ration card cannot be termed as proof of citizenship, a valid voter identity card can prove Indian citizenship.
Through an order dated February 12, Gauhati High Court had held that electoral photo identity card, along with PAN Card, bank documents and land tax paying receipts cannot be used to citizenship.
The Mumbai Police had informed the court that it had received information in March 2017 that some “Bangladeshi infiltrators” are residing on Reay Road in Mumbai. It said that a probe revealed that faced with poverty and starvation in Bangladesh, the accused had entered India through an unauthorised route without valid entry documents. They had no valid documents to prove Indian citizenship, Additional Public Prosecutor S C Lingayat, appearing for the police, had argued.
The court noted that while Abbas Shaikh had submitted his Aadhaar card, PAN card, voter identity card, passbook, health card and ration card, Rabiya Khatoon had submitted her Aadhaar card, PAN card and voter identity card. The court held that these documents are admissible in evidence.
“It is necessary to note that the Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving licence or ration card cannot be termed as documents proving citizenship in a sufficient manner as the said documents are not meant for the purpose of citizenship,” the court said. “…the election card can be said to be sufficient proof of citizenship, as while applying for the election card or voting card, a person has to file declaration with the authority in view of form 6 of the Representation of the People Act that he is a 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 judge said. The court acquitted the accused while noting that the prosecution had “utterly failed” to prove the charges levelled against them under Passport Rules and Foreigners Act.
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