The Delhi High Court has ruled that Tibetans who were born in India between 1950 and 1987 cannot be questioned under the Indian Citizenship Act. This may come under a cloud as the law was amended in 2003, but was implemented retrospectively.
The hair-splitting argument is that under the amendment, anyone born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but before 1 July 1987, is an Indian citizen. At the same time, if anyone born after that is also an Indian citizen if his or her parents at that point of time were Indian citizens.
The high court ruled that the government shall treat all Tibetans who meet the criteria of being Indian citizens by birth, as Indians and to issue them passports.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Sachdeva directed issuing Indian passports to Tibetans born in India between 26 January 1950 and before 01 July 1987.
The drafting of the Indian Citizenship Act by the then law secretary T.K. Viswanathan, who rose to become the Lok Sabha Secretary General (now retired), was considered too bad as it could not define citizenship. Under this definition, even Congress president Sonia Gandhi could not be an Indian citizen. Her children too could not be, as in Italy a child born in Italy is an Italian by birth and till death. By this definition, even Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi are Italian citizens.
The Delhi High Court order was made while hearing petitions seeking a direction to the Centre to allow the petitioners, who are children of Tibetan parents and born in India on or after 26.01.1950 and before 01.07.1987, as citizens of India under Section 3(1) (a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
On its behalf, the Union of India stated that all children born to Tibetan refugees in India would not be treated as Indian citizens based on their birth in India before 01.07.1987. It was required that such persons had to submit applications individually under Section 9(2) of the Citizenship Act and thereafter the nationality status would be determined by the Ministry of Home Affairs, as per the procedure prescribed under the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
But the High Court took note of the decision in the case of Namgyal Dolkar versus Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, wherein the Court had ruled that the Tibetans born after 26th January 1950, and before 1st July 1987, are Indian citizens in terms of the Citizenship Act and allowed the petitions.
It also held that such persons are Indian citizens and entitled to all benefits and privileges, as are available to Indian citizens. The court held that they are not required to make any application and that they cannot be denied an Indian passport.