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Supreme Court comes to help Assam woman facing deportation

The Supreme Court has asked the Assam government to explain how Sofiya could be a foreigner if both her parents, all five brothers and husband are Indians.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2018 23:05 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Supreme Court,Assam NRC,Assam immigrants
People whose name were left out in the National Register of Citizens draft stand in a queue to collect forms to file appeals in Mayong, Assam, on August 10. (AP file photo)

Coming to the aid of Sofiya Khatun, a 50-year-old facing deportation on the ground of being an illegal migrant, the Supreme Court asked the Assam government to file a report by September 5 explaining how she could be a “foreigner” if her parents, five brothers and husband were all Indian citizens.

Khatun, held in an Assam detention centre since 2016, has challenged the Barpeta Foreigners Tribunal and the Assam high court orders declaring her a foreigner after she could not prove a link to her father, Hasan Munshi, due to a mismatch in the spelling of his name in various voter lists.

The two orders also held she was not able to give her correct place and date of birth, which are vital to prove citizenship. But her brothers and her husband, all Indian citizens, have come out in her defence, filing affidavits in the Supreme Court.

Hearing the petition filed by Khatun, a bench of Justices Kurien Joseph and Sanjay Kishan Kaul recently asked the Assam government a series of questions: “Is it true that five brothers of the petitioner are citizens of India? Is it true that the husband of the petitioner is a citizen of India? And is it true that father and mother of the petitioner are citizens of India?”

Khatun in 1996 was classified as a “D (doubtful) Voter”. The foreigners’ tribunal issued notices, asking her to prove her citizenship. But she was unable to give her correct place and date of birth. In her petition to the SC, Khatun has said she is illiterate, and since her grandparents and parents were dead, she could not get the typological errors in their names corrected.

“Anomalies in the spellings of names are extremely common though unfortunate occurrence and in no way are a reflection on the claims of citizenship of the petitioner,” her petition said.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 22:16 IST