Pan Card, Bank Documents, Voter ID, and land Revenue paying receipts are not proof of citizenship, HC of Gauhati

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The Gauhati High court on 12th February, 2020 ruled that the PAN card, Bank Documents, Voter ID and land Revenue paying receipts are not proof of citizenship. The said ruling was passed when two writ petitions were filed challenging the opinion passed by the Foreigners Tribunal, Tinsukia, Assam.

Brief facts:

On 12th February, 2020, the Division Bench of Gauhati High Court comprising Justice Manojit Bhuyan and Justice Parthivjyoti Saikia, disposed the two writ petitions namely Munindra Biwas Vs. Union of India & others and Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun vs. Union of India & ors, ruling that PAN card, Bank Passbook, Land Revenue paying receipts, sale deed, Voter ID cannot be considered as proof for citizenship.

Munindra Biwas Vs. Union of India

This writ petition aroused against the opinion dated 30/07/2019 passed by the Foreigners Tribunal No. Tinsukia, Assam in case No.411/2007 P.E.315/1998. The tribunal has issued a notice to the petitioner calling upon her to prove her Citizenship. The Petitioner had duly appeared before the tribunal and filed his written statement. In his written statement he contended that he is a citizen of India by birth and he has his permanent residence in Assam. He further contended that his grandfather hailed from the district of West Bengal and his father later migrated to Tinsukia, Assam in the year 1965 where he lived until his death. He also contended that his father during his life time purchased a land in the Tinsukia District by executing a sale deed in the year 1970. In Support of his claim, the petitioner had filed Voters list of the year 1997 bearing his name, Sale deed of the above said land and its revenue receipt of the year, 1971. The tribunal rejected his claim and declared him as foreigner of post 1971 stream stating that the petitioner had duly failed to prove that his parents entered the state of Assam prior to 1965. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner has filed the above writ petition.

Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun vs. Union of India & ors

This writ petition was filed against the opinion dated 31/05/2019 passed by the foreigner’s Tribunal No. Baksa, Tamulpur, Assam, in case No. 22/BAKSA/2018. The tribunal called upon the petitioner to prove her citizenship. In response to the notice, the petitioner appeared before the tribunal and filed her written statement. The petitioner claimed that she was born to Lt. Jabed Ali and Jahura Khatun @ Jahera Kharan and hence is a citizen of India. She further contended that she has three brothers and two younger sisters namely Insan Ali, Khairul Ali & Samsul Ali, Morjina Begum and Taravanu Begum and stated that they along with their parents stayed in Bangalpara. She further stated that her father along with his family shifted to Dongoragaon due to the in the river embankment and lived there until his lifetime. The petitioner also contended that she was married to one Mr.Rejak Ali hailing from the same village. As proof her citizenship, she filed the voters list bearing her name, her brother’s, sister’s and her husband’s name, NRC details of her father, Land Revenue paying receipts, Certificate of citizenship issued by Gaon Bura, a copy of Pan Card, Bank Passbook, and a copy of Ration card.

Key features:

1. The court observed that the sale deeds are private documents hence must be proved in accordance with law.

2. The court reiterated that mere marking of documents cannot be held to be the due proof of the contents.

3. The court also reiterated that the Electoral Voter ID card cannot be a proof of citizenship.

4. The court also observed that the Bank passbook cannot be accepted as valid piece of evidence until proved.

5. The court heavily relied on Babul Islam Vs. State of Assam [WP(C) No. 3547 of 2016] in which the court has held that Voter ID, Bank Passbooks and PAN card cannot be relied on as a proof of citizenship.

The court while ruling both the writ petitions noted that the court while exercising its powers under Article 226 of Indian Constitution will not interfere with the decisions of the tribunal unless there is a perversity in its decision. The court dismissed the writ petitions files by the petitioners observing that the petitioners failed to prove their linkage to their parents thereby upholding the decision of the tribunal.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


1. Case No. : WP(C) 7426/2019, Munindra Biwas Vs. Union of India, Gauhati High Court, Order dated 12/02/2020.

2. Case No. : WP(C) 7451/2019 Jabeda Begum @ Jabeda Khatun vs. Union of India & ors, Gauhati High Court, Order dated 12/02/2020.

Lavanya Narayanan
I am Lavanya Narayanan, pursuing a master's in international law. With three years into the profession, I am currently reviving my long-forgotten passion for writing. As and when I find a time I watch debates and interviews on the current affairs of our nation. My areas of interest are criminal law, women and child rights especially toddlers. I love listening to puranic stories. I believe accepting things you don’t know as you don’t know leads you to the path of growth. Happy reading!