A couple who were accused by Mumbai police of being "Bangladeshi infiltrators" residing illegally in Mumbai were acquitted by an Additional Chief Magistrate of the Esplanade court in Mumbai.
The court held that both the accused were in possession of election cards which were sufficient to prove their Indian citizenship. The 45-year-old Abbas Shaikh and his wife, Rabiyakhatun Shaikh,40, were charge-sheeted in 2017 after a Mumbai police squad conducted a raid at their residence in Ray Road, Mumbai after they received an information that Bangladeshi infiltrators were living in the area.
The duo were charged for breach of condition, of Rule 3 punishable under Rule 6 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, and under Para 3(1) of the Foreigners Order, 1948 punishable under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The prosecution witness had stated that the the accused entered India through an unauthorised route, without valid documents of entry. The reasons for the move were stated to be "poverty and starvation" in Bangladesh.
ACMM A H Kashikar observed that the accused have filed various original documents, most of which are issued by public authority and are admissible as evidence, on record to prove their citizenships.
While Abbas had filed his Aadhar card, PAN card, election card, passbook, health card and ration card; Rabiyakhatun filed her Aadhar card, PAN card and election card.
The court said, "It is visible that sufficient documentary evidence is produced on record by the accused to discharge the burden of proving nationality. The prosecution just put the suggestion that these documents are false and fabricated. However, no rebuttal evidence is produced on record by the prosecution to vanish the documentary evidence produced by the accused."
Court also observed that Aadhar card, PAN card, driving license or ration card cannot be termed as the documents proving the citizenship of any person (as said documents are not meant for the purpose of citizenship). The birth certificate, domicile certificate, bonafide certificate, passport, among others, can be relied upon to establish the origin of any person and even the election card can be said to be sufficient proof of citizenship.
Stating that the election cards produced by both the accused were valid and could be relied upon, the court said, "Here, it is visible that accused no. 2 and accused no. 3 have filed their original election cards on record. It is not the case of prosecution that the accused no. 2 and 3 have prepared fake documents. Hence, I hold that original Election Cards of accused no. 2 and 3 are sufficient to prove their nationality as an Indian."
The Court, while acquitting the duo also said that the prosecution utterly failed to prove the charges it levelled against them.