Does a voter ID mean you are a citizen? It’s unclear
Is electoral photo identity card proof of citizenship? A slew of contradictory rulings by different courts in the past week have brought a fundamental question of law under a cloud of uncertainty.
On February 12, the Gauhati high court placing reliance on its 2018 judgment in Md. Babul Islam v. State of Assam held that the electoral photo identity card is not proof of citizenship.
The decision was given by bench of justices Manojit Bhuyan and Parthivjyothi Saikia in a plea by one Munindra Biswas who had produced copy of his voter id and the voter list of 1997 bearing his name.
On electoral card, the court held that it is not proof of citizenship.
“Regarding Electoral Photo Identity Card this court in the case of Md. Babul Islam v. State of Assam [WP(C) No. 3547 of 2016] has held that Electoral Photo Identity Card is not a proof of citizenship.”
On electoral list, the court said that the court said that the petitioner did not produce voter lists prior to 1997 and thereby failed to prove that he was staying in Assam prior to March 1971.
“The petitioner herein has failed to file voter lists prior to 1997, thereby the petitioner failed to prove that he has been staying in Assam prior to 25.03.1971.”
On the very same day, the same bench also rejected the claim of a person who had produced proof of her parents’ names appearing in the voter list but could not prove her linkage to her parents.
PAN and bank documents which were supplied by the petitioner were not accepted by the court which held that they are not proof of citizenship. The court again relied on its 2018 judgment in Md. Babul Islam to hold so.
“This Court in Md. Babul Islam Vs. Union of India [WP(C)/3547/2016], has already held that PAN Card and Bank documents are not proof of citizenship.”
In 2018, the Gauhati high court in Md. Babul Islam v. State of Assam had held that merely producing an electoral photo identity card without any supporting evidence would not be proof of citizenship.
“In so far Exhibit-7 Elector Photo Identity Card is concerned, besides not being proved, it is a post 25.03.1971 document. Besides, merely producing such an identity card in the absence of supporting evidence would not be proof of citizenship”, the court had ruled.
In at least two of these cases, claims of citizenship were turned down by the Gauhati high court despite the persons concerned producing voter card as proof.
While the Gauhati high court consistently ruled against electoral card as a proof of citizenship, a Mumbai court on February 15 ruled that electoral photo identity card is proof of citizenship unless proved otherwise.
The ruling by a magistrate’s court in Mumbai came in a case concerning citizenship of a couple who were alleged to be from Bangladesh.
The court held that “birth certificate, domicile certificate, bonafide certificate, passport, etc can be relied upon to establish the origin of any person.”