(TibetanReview.net, Aug24, 2016) – The hearing in a petition in the High Court of Delhi seeking recognition by the government of India of Tibetans born between 1950 and 1987 as citizens by birth as provided by the country’s citizenship law has been postponed to Sep 22. The matter was fixed for final hearing on Aug 22, but the government lawyers had appeared before the court without the required response to the petitioner’s complaints.
The presiding judge, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, deferred the case as the respondents had not filed their affidavit, said petitioner Lobsang Wangyal, citing Simarpal Sawhney, one of his counsels.
“Today, the matter was fixed for final arguments. But unfortunately the respondents one, two and three — the Union of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ministry of Home Affairs — have not filed the counter affidavit,” he quoted Mr Sawhney as saying.
Rather, they had come with some inter-ministerial order and the judge ordered them to place it on record while fixing the next date of hearing. Mr Sawhney hopes the matter will be concluded on Sep 22, the next date of hearing.
Mr Lobsang Wangyal’s petition says the Government of India has so far been following a legally wrong policy that treats Tibetans as non-Indians, irrespective of the date of their birth in India.
Recently, in Jun 2016, in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by the Tibetan Legal Association, Dharamshala, the government of India replied that during an inter-ministerial meeting convened by the Home Secretary on 30 Mar 2010, it was decided that “The children born to Tibetan refugee in India will not be treated as Indian citizen automatically based on their birth in India before 12 July 1987.”
On the other hand, Mr Lobsang Wangyal argues that the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, Article 3(1)(a) explicitly says: “Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 (Amendment) Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth.”
The RTI reply says Tibetans born in India before 1 July 1987 have to submit an application individually under the provision of the citizenship law dealing with renunciation of citizenship. But this position of the government of India has already been rejected by the High Court of Delhi in a similar case decided by it in 2010. However, the RTI reply says that was an individual case.
The current Public interest Litigation filed by Mr Lobsang Wangyal asks the High Court to treat all Tibetans born between 26 Jan 1950 and 30 Jun 1987 and their offspring similarly, namely citizens of India by birth, since many legally eligible Tibetans have been denied passport on the basis of the above RTI response which has been already been rejected by the Delhi High Court in the 2010 case and also by the Karnataka High Court in a similar case in 2014.
The Election Commission of India has earlier, on the basis of the High Court rulings, ordered the registration of Tibetans who are citizens by birth as voters. On the other hand, the Home Ministry has refused to follow the High Court orders.