Monday, September 2, 2013

Passport alone no proof of citizenship: Bombay HC

A birth certificate, passport or even an Aadhaar card may not be enough to prove that you are an Indian citizen if you were born after July 1, 1987. Citizenship laws say a person born in India after July 1, 1987 cannot claim automatic citizenship unless at least one of the parents is an Indian. 

The Bombay high court has refused to grant relief to a man and three others charged with being illegal immigrants even after they produced passports (later terminated), Aadhaar cards and birth certificates to prove they were Indians. 

"The birth certificate of one of the applicants will not (suffice) as under the law it is imperative for such applicant to establish that his parents were Indian nationals. There is no such proof adduced," said Justice K U Chandiwal dismissing their pleas. 

Under citizenship laws, a person is an Indian by birth if born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987. If a person is born after July 1987, he or she can claim citizenship if either parent was a citizen. For all born in India on or after December 3, 2004, they can claim citizenship by birth only if both parents are Indians, or if one parent is a citizen and the other is not an illegal immigrant at the time of birth. 

The court upheld a trial court's order punishing Afzal Khan (name changed) and three others with a jail term of six months for illegally entering India. The court also rejected a plea to revert the matter to the trial court so that they could submit identity proof. 

"A birth certificate may show that a person was born in India, and other documents may show that they have lived in India. But the law does not recognize that as proof of citizenship," said additional public prosecutor Swapnil Pednekar, who opposed the applications that challenged the trial court order. The prosecution said the accused were Bangladeshis who had entered India illegally. 

The accused's lawyer claimed that they had passports which showed they were Indians and were in possession of Aadhaar cards and birth certificates which showed they were citizens by birth. They urged the court to quash the trial court's order. The HC dismissed the applications, saying the law "categorically illustrates the person who can be accepted to be an Indian citizen''.

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