Possession of Aadhar card, voter id and pan card not proof of Indian citizenship – Patna HC

In the case of Kiran Gupta Vs State Election Commission & Ors. [Letters Patent Appeal No.139 of 2020 in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.19109 of 2019] Patna High Court held that the foreign national does not become an Indian citizen on marriage with a citizen under the Act.

The appellant, Kiran Gupta, was born and brought up in Nepal. In 2003, she solemnized her marriage and after that started permanently residing with him in India as his wife. After her marriage, she, (a) got her name entered into the voters list prepared in the year 2008 for elections to the Assembly of Bihar; (b)in her name she has (i) an account with a bank in India, (ii) a Pan Card issued by the Income Tax Department, and (iii) an Aadhaar Card; (c) names of her children born out of the wedlock are registered in India under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 and the respective Rules framed thereunder; (d) pursued her higher education in India; (e) purchased an immovable property in India, vide sale deed. The sale stands recorded with an entry of mutation in her name for which also she paid fee/rent to the Government of Bihar; and (g) relinquished her Nepali Citizenship in February 2016. The issue of her nationality became the subject matter of challenge in the year 2018 after she was elected as a Mukhiya of Gram Panchayat. The respondent challenged her election on the ground of disqualification which she entailed under sub-section 1(a) of Section 136 of the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 2006. The State Election Commission, set aside her election, which action she challenged by way of a writ petition. The Court held the appellant to have voluntarily relinquished her Citizenship of Nepal in February 2016, and as such not being a citizen of India, entailed disqualification under the Panchayat Act.

Court observed while referring the case of Rajani Kumari Versus State Election Commission &Ors. (2019) 4 PLJR 673 where it was held that, “The State Election Commission was empowered to set aside the appellant’s election under Section 136 (1) of the Panchayat Act. The State Election Commission shall entertain and consider the ‘disqualification’ issues on the basis of the unimpeachable materials placed before him. Whether a complaint brought before the Commission either suo-moto or by any other person, the Commission shall at the first instance enquire whether it is a purely election dispute and only when it is found that the dispute brought before it is not a purely election dispute, the Commission shall proceed to consider the same on the basis of unimpeachable materials.”

Court further observed that, “The object of the Citizenship Act is to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian Citizenship. Section 5 of the Citizenship Act deals with such persons who seek Citizenship by registration. In National Human Rights Commission Versus State of Arunachal Pradesh and another, (1996) 1 SCC 742, the Apex Court clarified that a person can be registered as a Citizen of India only if he satisfies the requirement contained in Section 5. The appellant did not ever file for registration of citizenship. An oath of allegiance is necessarily required to be taken by the appellant. Hence, by her actions and conduct, she precluded herself from being considered as a citizen under the Citizenship Act.”

Court held that, “Aadhaar Act, 2016 clearly states that an Aadhaar number or authentication thereof shall not by itself confer any right of or be proof of Citizenship or domicile of the Aadhaar number holder. Hence, the appellant cannot rely on her PAN card and Aadhaar Card as proof of Indian Citizenship. Also, mutating name in the register is only proof of ownership of property and is silent on the status of Citizenship of person to whom property is transferred.”

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