For Namgyal Dolkar, it was victory after a legal battle of a year and three months. Born in Delhi 24 years ago to a Tibetan refugee couple, Dolkar was denied an Indian passport by the Delhi regional passport officer on the grounds that she was not a citizen.
The Delhi high court, declaring Dolkar an Indian citizen, said it found the reasons for denial wrong and unjustifiable. The court also imposed a fine of R5,000 on the Ministry of External Affairs for denying her passport.
In a letter dated September 1, 2009, the passport officer had informed Dolkar that it was MEA’s decision not to issue her a passport, as she could not be treated as an Indian national under the citizenship act.
However, justice S Muralidhar found merit in the argument of Dolkar’s lawyer Roxna Swamy that according to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986, enacted on November 28 that year, every person born in India before the amendment was an Indian citizen. “The petitioner was born in India on April 13, 1986, that is after January 26, 1950, and before July 1, 1987, (when 1986 amendment was notified), and is an Indian citizen by birth. She cannot, therefore, be denied a passport,” said justice Muralidhar.
The court, in fact, wondered why the passport office denied her passport when the provisions in the law clearly stated that the person born between the two dates was an Indian citizen by birth. The judge said she was an Indian citizen by all means. The ruling is set to benefit many of those born in India to parents who are foreign citizens. Dolkar’s parents were both born in Tibet.