GUWAHATI — On December 5, the Supreme Court of India issued a historic judgment in the ongoing Assam citizenship case. The verdict came as a relief for about 48 lakh people, especially the married women, whose Indian citizenship was at risk.
A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman, in the landmark judgement set aside the Guwahati High Court order, dated February 28, 2017, which had invalidated the Panchayat certificate as a supporting document for the inclusion of these people in the National Citizenship Register (NCR).
Maulana Mahmood Madani, General Secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, President Jamiat Ulama-i-Assam and Member of Parliament (LS) have lauded the verdict. Terming it as a grand victory for these people fighting for their citizenship, they also thanked the people who have supported the cause.
The duo had filed a petition at the Apex court, demanding intervention, when Guwahati High Court had invalidated the Linkage Certificate issued by GP Secretary/Circle Officer for inclusion of Names in NRC. “This decision was very alarming for about 48 lakh people who submitted Panchayat certificates as supporting documents to prove their family linkages and shifting to another place after marriage or for any reason,” said Maulana Madni.
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In view of graveness of the issue, both Maulana Madani and Ajmal had filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the Guwahati High Court’s order on behalf of Monowwra Bewa and Rupjan Begam. The final hearing was on 22 November, 2017 and the judgment was reserved.
“Both the affected women were disappointed by the Guwahati High Court’s order, Assam Unit of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind decided to help them out. This verdict was not affecting just these two women but the citizenship of lakhs of people. So, we decided to go to the Supreme Court directly with the case of these affected two ladies,” said Maulana Ajmal. Following their petition other organizations also became a party in the case too.
It should be noted that the preparation of National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam has been underway under the supervision of the Apex Court of India for the past three years. The coordinator for the NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela in his submission on 12 October 2017 told the Supreme Court that nearly 17 lakh out of of the 48 lakh people, whose Panchayat certificates were invalidated by the Gauhati High Court, have been identified as original inhabitants (OI). The rest are being examined.
Sensing the graveness of this differentiation between the original and migrant inhabitants, a separate petition was filed by the Jamiat in the Supreme Court against this differentiation challenging its legality and demanding a definition for the same. The advocates of the Assam Government and the Central Government failed to convince the SC by providing a satisfactory definition for the citizenship issue.
The recent judgment comes as a big blow to the conspiracy hatched to deprive Muslims of Assam their rightful Indian citizenship.