Bangladeshi national contested 2021 assembly seat for TMC, finds Calcutta HC
KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Alo Rani Sarkar, who unsuccessfully contested the Bongaon South assembly seat in 2021, is a Bangladeshi national, the Calcutta high court said on Friday while passing its order on Sarkar’s petition that challenged the poll results.
During the series of hearings that ended on May 13, lawyers of the respondent, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Swapan Majumdar, who won the seat by around 2,000 seats, told the court that Sarkar’s petition should be rejected because she is a Bangladeshi national and India does not allow dual citizenship.
Dr Harendra Nath Sarkar, the petitioner’s husband is a well-known professor of medicine at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barisal, Bangladesh, the respondent claimed.
In support of his contention the respondent filed a copy of the National Identity Card (No.7307645577) of Bangladesh issued in the name of the petitioner. It showed her as a bona fide voter of Barisal district.
Alo Rani Sarkar filed the petition after the polls results were declared on May 2, 2021.
The court ordered an inquiry to establish her nationality and reports were sought from several departments in Bangladesh.
Sarkar’s lawyers claimed in court that though born in Bengal’s Hooghly district in 1969 she became a Bangladeshi citizen after her marriage to Dr Harendra Nath Sarkar in 1980 but she has left him because of matrimonial discord and returned to India.
The lawyers said she enrolled her name in the electoral roll of Bangladesh in 2012 “out of mistake” and it came to her notice in 2020 when she requested the Election Commission secretariat at Dhaka to delete it.
The inquiry ordered by the Calcutta high court, however, found Sarkar to be a Bangladeshi national by virtue of birth and the judge made strong observations, even referring to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
“Even if the petitioner has voter identity card, Aadhar card and passport, the said documents do not prove her citizenship of this country. It is needless to say that the petitioner has claimed to be the citizen of this country by birth. But from the inquiry report which she relies in her written objection against the application under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the CPC it is ascertained that her parents used to live in Bangladesh and she came to India with her uncle in her childhood, meaning thereby that the petitioner was born in Bangladesh,” said the order passed by justice Bibek Chaudhuri, a copy of which was seen by HT.
“It is not clear even on this date as to whether her name has been deleted from the electoral roll of Bangladesh. The petitioner has not claimed acquisition of citizenship under Section 3 or 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. She has not acquired citizenship by registration under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act of 1955. The petitioner also does not fall within the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019,” said the order.
“Her nomination paper was scrutinized by the Election Commission. She was declared qualified to be chosen to fill that seat. Under the provision of the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951, therefore, the court cannot hold her to be disqualified under Section 16 of the 1950 Act without trial,” the judge wrote.
The order further said: “It is needless to say that a passport, voters identity card, pan card, Aadhar card are not documents of citizenship of India. If a person claims citizenship of this court, he/she must prove her citizenship under Part-II of the Constitution of India. Article 9 of the Constitution states that no person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 5 or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 6 or Article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign state.”
“.......it is crystal clear that the petitioner is a Bangladeshi national on the date of filing of nomination paper and on the dates of election and declaration of the result,” said the judge.
“From the face of the petitioner’s own document, it is found that the petitioner had no right to contest the assembly election of 2021. As she is not a citizen of India, she shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the legislature of a state in terms of Article 173 of the Constitution read with Section 16 of the Representation of People Act, 1950,” the order said.
No TMC leaders commented on the court order. Sarkar could not be contacted despite several efforts.
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