MHA 'Order' Opens Doors for Shah's 'Threat & Promise': NRC Countrywide a la Assam - IAMC
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MHA ‘Order’ Opens Doors for Shah’s ‘Threat & Promise’: NRC Countrywide a la Assam

In a sharp and insidious move that gives life to the BJP manifesto on the Citizenship Bill, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under Amit Shah has issued a controversial notification on May 30, 2019.… The new Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order 2019, also allows states to constitute their own FTs, earlier unique to Assam, to address the question of citizenship of a person. The amendment empowers district magistrates in all states and union territories to set up FTs to detect foreigners. This is arguably a move that Courts could strike down as violative of the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution and Citizenship Act itself.

The amendment substitutes “the central government” with “the central government or the state government or the union territory administration or the district collector or the district magistrate,” allowing all latter authorities to refer to the question: whether a person is not a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, to FTs for its opinion and thereby creating one.

Unlike regular courts of crime, where a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the onus is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused, in an FT hearing, the burden of proof lies on the person whose citizenship is under question. The person under question has to prove both the authenticity of their citizenship and the authenticity of the documents used to build his/her case.…