Delhi High Court directs government to issue Indian passport to Tibetans in landmark judgment

DHARAMSALA, Sep 23: The Delhi High Court in a landmark judgment on Thursday ordered the Home and External Affairs ministries to issue passports to all Tibetan applicants born between 1950 to 1987 reasoning that they meet the criteria of being Indian citizens by birth under the Citizenship Act.

The Court delivered the historic judgment after hearing a petition filed by three Tibetans born in India – Phuntsok Wangyal, Lobsang Wangyal and Tenzin Dhonden – who were told to apply for, and receive a citizenship certificate from the Ministry of Home Affairs before they could acquire a passport, even though they had in possession other proofs of Indian citizenship such as a Voter identification card.

Holding that the question of nationality does not arise in cases where a person is considered a citizen of India as per the Citizenship Act, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva rejected the Home Ministry’s argument that it considers requests for citizenship by Tibetans residing in India on a case-by-case basis and directed both the Home and the External Affairs Ministries to consider applications of all Tibetans and not ask them to certify their nationality, according to a report published by NDTV.

Though Tenzin Dhonden was born in India after 1987, the Court held that since his Tibetan father was born in India in 1966, he is also eligible for an Indian Passport as the Citizenship Act states that ‘a person born after 1987, but before the Citizenship Act was amended in 2003, is entitled to Indian citizenship if any one of his or her parents were Indian citizens’.