The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday granted bail to a Bangladeshi Christian woman keeping in mind the provisions of the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019. The woman was accused of being an “illegal migrant” from Bangladesh and was accused of having Indian passport with forged and fraudulent documents. The Court keeping in mind the amended Section 2 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 said that there is prima facie material to show that the woman has been residing in India since 2002 and therefore she deserves to be granted bail.
Case of the petitioner
The main allegation against the petitioner was that she was accused of having an Indian passport which she had obtained using fraudulent documents. The petitioner in her defence submitted that she had come to India back in 2003 to pursue her higher education. Later she got married to an India resident and had obtained her passport giving genuine documents, which were both genuine and valid. She was residing in India since 2002.
She submitted that in May 2019 during a journey, the Immigration office at Kolkata detained her and her son in the Kolkata airport, though they were released later on. Following that incident the Regional Passport Office issued her a notice for the revocation of her passport. This was followed by her arrest by the local police. She was presented before a Magistrate and was remanded to police custody until 11th November 2019. Since then she had remained in judicial custody.
The primary allegations against her was that she is a Bangladeshi citizen who is an illegal migrant and has obtained Indian passport using fabricated IDs such as Aadhaar and PAN card. The Assistant Passport Officer, Bangalore lodged a complaint against her in this regard and as a result she was arrested. FIR was registered against her citing Sections 465, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 5, 12 and 14 of Foreigners Act, 1946 and Sections 3(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
She filed an Application for bail before an Additional City Civil & Sessions Judge, Bangalore which was dismissed by the court stating there is prima facie evidence to show that there exists manipulation of records and the petitioner may tamper with evidence if she is allowed bail. This led to the petitioner approaching the Karnataka High Court.
- Definition of the term “illegal migrant” has changed after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019.
- The Court observed that the petitioner deserved bail in view of the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
- The Court said that all proceedings will stand abated in view of the new amendments.
The Courts order
The Karnataka High Court was of the opinion that in view of the recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 the petitioner cannot be treated as an “illegal migrant”. The Court held that all the proceedings initiated against her would stand abated in view of the recent amendments which changed the definition of “illegal migrant”. The Court further added that the petitioner needs to apply for citizenship as per the amended Citizenship act. The Court said that there is prima facie evidence of her residing in India since 2002 with her husband and child, until the allegations made against her is established in a proper trial, she will be entitled to bail.
In view of the above the Karnataka High Court granted bail to the petitioner on execution of a bond of Rs. 200000 and subject to the following conditions:
1. The petitioner shall not tamper with any evidence.
2. The petitioner has to co-operate with the investigating officer and appear before him when she is co called.
3. The petitioner shall not leave the jurisdiction of the Trial Court with prior permission.
4. The petitioner has to mark attendance on 1st and 15th of every calendar month between 10 AM and 5 PM for a period of two months.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Smt.Archona Purnima Pramanik v. State of Karnataka, criminal petition no. 279 of 2020.
2. Bar and Bench, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/karnataka-hc-grants-bail-to-alleged-illegal-bangladeshi-woman (last visited 30th January 2020, 3:08 PM)