A landmark decision from the High Court that would – in the Court’s view – impact other similar cases. Mr Fazli represented the successful Claimant in this substantive judicial review hearing against the decision of Defendant Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD), by which she refused to grant the Claimant British citizenship on ‘good character’ grounds.
The Claimant, a doctor, was a member of an organisation that was responsible for war crimes during the time of his involvement and during a part of which the American and British governments had supported the same organisation in its war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The organisation was proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000 many years after the Claimant had left the organisation.
The Court held at  that the issues adjudicated upon by the Court in this case ”are capable of affecting the consideration by the Defendant of other similar cases”.
Mr Fazli sought from the Court, amongst other forms of relief, a mandatory order requiring the SSHD to naturalise the Defendant or a declaration that he is of ‘good character’. Whilst, the Court did not grant mandatory relief given the SSHD’s wide discretion, the Court granted substantial declaratory relief and other important positive observations in respect the issues raised within the various grounds of challenge.
Mr Fazli succeeded on 6 out of the 7 grounds of challenge. The grounds were as follows:
(1) Whether the factual and evidential conclusions reached by the Defendant are unlawful and/or unreasonable and/or unfair in the true context of the C’s life, including any relevant mitigating and exceptional circumstances.
(2) Whether the Defendant erred in law by failing to afford sufficient weight and consideration to the Claimant’s 20 years of concern free residence in the UK and the values he has adopted as part of his identity.
(3) Whether the Defendant has acted unlawfully in her exercise of discretion by granting naturalisation to other members of Hizb-e-Islami (HEI), including those that may have held more senior roles within the organisation than the Claimant.
(4) – Whether the Defendant erred in the consideration and weight she afforded to the fact that HEI was proscribed in 2005 and the Claimant had left that organisation in 1996.
(5) – Whether the Defendant acted unlawfully in ignoring to consider the fact that HEI was supported by her Majesty’s government during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
(6) – Whether the Defendant erred in the weight she attached to the findings of the adjudicator in 2004 in circumstances where those findings were made under the lower standard of proof, namely the reasonable degree of likelihood, whereas ‘good character’ is likely to be assessed on the civil standard of the balance of probabilities.
(7) – Whether the refusal of naturalisation attracts or ought to attract a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
To read the judgment, please click the link below:
AHN, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 582 (Admin) (16 March 2022) (bailii.org)
Mr Mansoor Fazli, instructed by Amer Manzoor of Reliance Solicitors UK