SC Sets Free Assam Woman From Detention Centre After State Admits Her Relatives Are Indians
Sofiya Khatun was held in the detention centre since 2016 pursuant to an order of the foreigner’s tribunal, which was not satisfied with her claims of citizenship after she was listed as a D-voter — 'doubtful' voter — and called upon to prove her credentials.
New Delhi: Two years on, Sofiya Khatun — a woman in her 50s — can finally come out of jail, designated as a detention centre for illegal migrants in Assam.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered for the release of Khatun after noting that her parents, five brothers and husband were all Indian citizens.
Khatun was held in the detention centre since 2016 pursuant to an order of the foreigner’s tribunal. The tribunal was not satisfied with her claims of citizenship after she was listed as D-voter — “doubtful” voter — and called upon to prove her credentials. She has three daughters and one son.
A bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph on Wednesday said she could not be detained in the Kokrajhar jail any more after the state government's admission that her parents, brothers and husband possessed valid Indian citizenship. The court set Khatun free with the condition that she appear before the police station in Barpeta once every month.
Earlier, the Assam government, in its affidavit filed in response to the bench's query, had confirmed the fact that Khatun's relatives were Indian citizens. However, the state also mentioned that a detailed inquiry was still warranted since she had failed to establish her link with her father due to mismatch of the name. It further pointed out that the foreigner's tribunal and the Gauhati high court also shot down her citizenship claims because she never brought forth any contention regarding her brothers being Indian citizens. Therefore, the Assam government sought leave of the court to carry out a fuller inquiry into the matter.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for Khatun, pressed for her immediate release, citing the admissions made by the Assam government in its affidavit. Accepting Hegde's submissions, the court also said the state government may go ahead with its inquiry but Khatun's liberty could not be curtailed pending its outcome since there were materials on record to show that her relatives were all Indian citizens.