By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 14 September 2018
The Delhi High Court has ordered the Government of India to take immediate action to streamline their procedures for processing the passport applications of Tibetans who are entitled to Indian citizenship by birth.
In the hearing of the case brought by five Tibetans to Justice Vibhu Bakhru, government counsel Mr Rajesh Gogna assured them that: “Within a period of three days, the entire process would be streamlined and shall be put on the website so that such citizens are not constrained to repeatedly approach this Court.”
The petitioners have pleaded the court against the impediment that has been placed by the government by not cancelling the Identity Certificate (IC, popularly known as the Yellow Book, a travel document issued to Tibetans by the Government of India in place of a passport) and the Registration Certificate (RC) previously issued to the petitioners, in order to process their passport applications.
Tibetans have been running from pillar to post but none of the relevant authorities are accepting the surrender of their IC and RC documents. Authorities then refuse to issue passports on the ground that the petitioners have not surrendered these same documents.
The five Tibetans who appealed to the court are: Karma Dhondup, Sonam Chodon, Kalsang Dickyi, Tsering Topden and Tempa Rapjyal.
In a landmark judgment in September 2016, the Delhi High Court accepted that Tibetans born in India between 26 January 1950 and 1 July 1987, and their children, are citizens of India, and are entitled to a passport.
However, due to lack of clear directives from the government, officials at the passport offices and the FROs at the police offices where RC is regulated, harassed Tibetans who were applying, leading to obstruction in issuing passport to them.
In absence of a system in place, Tibetans were at the mercy of the clerks at the desk, who make their own rules — which are generally to halt rather than to help move things forward in processing their applications.
Simarpal Singh Sawhney, who pleaded the case for the Tibetans, said that once the government put the new rules on their website, fresh applications in the 1950-1987 year-of-birth slab shouldn’t face any undue problems.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru in November 2017 quashed a government rule which ordered that after obtaining Indian citizenship a Tibetan must leave their settlement.
He observed that counsel appearing for the respondent has been unable to point out any provision in law which entitles the passport authorities to deny passport to an Indian citizen on the basis of where he resides in this country.
thank you for the true and updated news
This is Tamding Dorjee vs Indian government (Nov 2017 case) where Delhi court gave judgement on whether Tibetans holding Indian passports are required to give back their land allotment or not.
Yes, it is very clearly mentioned in the report, and the link is also there in the second last para.
The Court is clearly saying in item 7 of the order that whether government can deny passport facilities to an Indian citizen on the basis of a person residing in settlements designated for Tibetans.
The court found that the government counsel was unable to point out any provision in law that could drive away Tibetans from settlements after getting passport.
Court then ordered passport office to issue passport to the petitioner, and the government order to leave settlement was invalidated.
CTA benefit issue was not examined as this was not appealed. Someone should bring this to court also so that it will become clear.
So the point is, if Tibetans living in Tibetan settlements gets Indian passport, they will not be asked to leave the settlement. This should be clear, and must be made public.
Dear Indian-born Tibetans,
Apply for Indian passport, become Indians. And hand back settlement homes and land. they are for RC and IC holding refugees.
Tibetans from US like lobsang sangay don’t have shichak homes.
but you cannot have a home in settlement as well as indian passport. they are mutually exclusive.
If that is the case, all those holding on to their land and houses even after migrating to the West should give up their facilities as provided to them as a Tibetan refugee. Ngakhang and Chukhang are being held by some people even though just the elders are left behind to hold on to the facilities provided by CTA. Some have even sold their houses and lands before migrating to the west. Why is there so much fuss against Tibetans living in India applying for Indian citizenship while nothing is said against those settled elsewhere? Most of those left behind are seedha-sadha Tibetans who are not in a position to pay few million rupees to the human traffickers. Sitting comfortably in the West, don’t decide upon the fate of the Tibetans in India. By the way, I have not applied for Indian citizenship and I don’t intend to. But I respect others’ right to choose the direction they want to.
it’s up to individual’s if they want to apply for passport or live with RC. Nobody can force anyone to what to choose.
Those who go for Indian citizenship, they cannot be asked to leave their shichaks because that’s what court finds to be unlawful. Hence Delhi High Court quashed a government order to leave settlements after becoming Indian.
Once someone has lived at one place for generations, nobody can kick them out. That’s also what Indian law says. Know the law before commenting like a crying baby.
You’re mistaken. Delhi High Court ruled that Indian citizens( of Tibetan origin) should move out of protected settlement homes in their ruling. except –
“..RPO, Shimla in addition to the conditions prescribed inMinistry’s O.M. of even no. dated 17/03/2013 and Passport Manual,2016,may
process the pending passport applications of TR applicants subject to fulfilment of
following additional requirement:-
Registration/Refugee Certificate (RC) and Identity
Certificate (IC) should be cancelled;
Applicant should not be staying in any of the
designated Tibetan Refugee settlements;
(iii)Applicant should be asked to furnish an
undertaking/declaration on plain paper to the effect that he is no longer enjoys CTA benefits…’
So new Indians of Tibetan origin cannot avail of the benefits meant for stateless refugees.
Tashi, why are you being so dumped. Read LW’s report and follow the link in the second last para. It clearly says that the Delhi High Court has quashed the rule saying those who obtained Indian citizen should not be staying in any of the designated Tibetan Refugee settlements.
Furthermore, Indian law protects those people if they have been living at a particular place for generations. Nobody can throw them away.
Those who apply for citizen are not saying they will not surrender RC and IC. So this point is irrelevant.
Whether there’s merit in denying CTA benefit to those obtaining Indian citizenship is matter of judicial scrutiny for it’s justification. If the court finds merit in that, then the likes of LS and others in CTA will have to cease to hold those posts as all the benefits for these posts are paid by CTA. Making sense?
The bitter truth of Tibetan is that leaders hold full citizenship of most powerful nation and developed countries but to common Tibetan are misleading and discouraged to get the very basic right and law of the land where automatically by birth we are an Indian as clarified by Honorable high court. Now in obtaining Passport to ease travel abroad as tourist, meeting family members and relatives are restricted by CTA. Tibetan appealing to High Court and making way to get Passport are truly a leader in itself in getting Tibetan in India what is his/her right and duty being born in India. Sometimes CTA need to realise that holding citizenship as per law is obeying law and restricting a rightful citizen of India is illegal by itself. The most important is to have Tibetan within oneself like many of our Tibetan abroad and in India who have citizen of respective countries but very enact and for our cause like Lobsang Wangyal himself, a jolly and never missed in his duty in contributing toward Tibetan cause and struggle in many different way even though have Indian Passport legally paving way for Tibetan to have it legally. Cheers to all…
It’s so true that the dealing officers are incompetent and unhelpful. Their lethargy is such that Indian law and system are rendered meaningless.
Since the passport facility was opened to Tibetans earlier this year, many have got theirs. Many more would like to apply but the behaviour of the staffs has kept them away from applying.
I appreciate the five Tibetans for coming forward and approaching the court to fix the RC/IC surrender issue. The lousy officials will not have any more excuses to block.
Delhi High Court is known for it’s courage and efficiency on granting and safeguarding the rights and justice of the common people. It has done it again. Bravo. Respect. Salute.
Unfortunately, the courts can only make judgement. No matter how favourable a judgement is, nothing will change on the ground unless the executives and the personnel on the ground show some willingness to bring about a change. Like in the past, these petitioners will have their wishes fulfilled but it will be restricted to that alone. Another passport seeker will have to go through the whole process again. This is becoming a norm for each and every passport seeker. It seems every passport seeker has to approach the honourable court to get their job done. By the way CTA too hasn’t been very cooperative in the matter, maybe because majority of the people in kashag or chitue has one foot in India and the other in the West.