Voter ID Sufficient Proof of Citizenship: Mumbai Court Acquits Muslim Couple Accused as Illegal Bangladeshi Migrants
MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 20— A court in Mumbai has acquitted a local Muslim couple of the charge that they are illegal Bangladesh migrants, saying that they possess not only Aadhaar Card, PAN card and Ration Card, but also Voter ID which is alone sufficient proof of citizenship.
Abbas Lalmiya Shaikh (45) and his wife Rabiya Khatun Abbas Shaikh (40), residents of Shanti Nagar Zopadpatti, Galli No. 03, Mankhurd, Mumbai, were apprehended by the local police in March 2017 on the basis of “secret information” that some “Bangladeshi infiltrators” are residing in the area of Mumbai. The police also alleged that couple had entered into India through unauthorized route without valid document of entry because of the poverty and starvation spread over in Bangladesh and they had no valid documents to prove Indian citizenship. The police did not present any proof in support of their charges but put the burden of proving Indian citizenship on the couple.
The couple were charge-sheeted for breach of condition, of Rule 3 punishable under Rule 6 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, and under Para 3(1) of the Foreigners Order, 1948 punishable U/Sec. 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
In his February 11 order, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Esplanade Court, Mumbai noted that Abbas Shaikh filed his Aadhaar Card, PAN Card, Election Card, Passbook, Health Card and Ration Card and his wife filed her Aadhaar Card, Pan Card and Election Card, reports LiveLaw.in.
“It is pertinent to note Aadhar Card, PAN card, Election Card and Ration Card are the documents issued by the public authority and the same can be termed as a public document. They are admissible in evidence,” said Judge AH Kashikar.
Acquitting the couple of the charges, the Judge said: “It is necessary to note that the Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving license or ration card cannot be termed as the documents proving the citizenship of any person in a sufficient manner as said documents are not meant for the purpose of citizenship. The birth certificate, domicile certificate, bonafide certificate, passport etc, can be relied upon to establish the origin of any person. Even 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 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 accused couple had filed their original election cards on court record and prosecution could not prove that the accused had prepared fake documents.
“Hence, I hold that original Election Cards of accused no. 2 and 3 are sufficient to prove their nationality as an Indian,” said the judge.