Tibetans should forgo homes at settlements and CTA benefits to get Indian passport, says MEA

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, June 23: Tibetans applying for Indian Passport will have to forego their homes at Tibetan Refugee Settlements and do away with Central Tibetan Administration’s benefits, according to a report on Tibet Sun that cited new rules issued by the Indian Government’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Though the Delhi High Court issued an order in September 2016 that any Tibetan born in India on or after Jan 26, 1950 but before Jul 1, 1987 should be issued Indian passport as they are Indian citizen by birth according to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, the new rules issued by the Indian government’s MEA will make Tibetans homeless again as it requires them to forgo their homes at Tibetan settlements in order to get the passport but provides no land.

Image: Tibet Sun
Image: Tibet Sun

The new rules have made acquiring Indian passports a daunting task for the Tibetans despite their eligibility according to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955. Many Tibetan applicants were caught off guard by the new rule and are left in limbo.

The Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Bangalore handed the new rules to a monk who after getting his passport was told to surrender his Registration Certificate (RC), a legal document that allows Tibetans to stay in India and to fulfil the conditions of the new rules, the report added.

The new rule of the Indian Government’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) states that,

1)              Registration Certificate and Identity Certificate should be cancelled.

2)              Applicant should not be staying at any of the designated Tibetan Refugee Settlements.

3)              Application should furnish an undertaking/declaration on plain paper to the effect that he no longer enjoys CTA [Central Tibetan Administration] benefits.

4)              Applicant should provide an undertaking/declaration on plain paper that he no longer enjoys any privileges including subsidies which would have accrued to him/her by virtue of being a RC holder and that these have been returned/surrendered.

Earlier, the rule required Tibetans who applied for the Indian passports to just revoke their Registration Certificate(RC) and Identity Certificate(IC), a travel document issued by the Indian government that allows Tibetans to travel abroad, in a bid to obtain the Indian passport.

However, the new rules are said to be in violation of the Constitution of the India.

“These new MEA rules for Tibetans are in violation of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India. These rules are made by some officials, not following any existing law. There is every reason to challenge these rules in court,” the report cited Advocate Simarpal Sawhney in Delhi as saying in an interview.