Overseas Citizens of India Seem to Relish Same Rights as Other Indians: Delhi High CourtTop Stories

August 13, 2018 04:25
Overseas Citizens of India Seem to Relish Same Rights as Other Indians: Delhi High Court

(Image source from: Goodreturns)

The Delhi high court has said that Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) in a similar way as other Indian citizen seem to relish the fundamental rights of equality before law and freedom of speech and expression.

The court's remark came while enquiring the Centre to place before it the material based on which an intelligence report had recommended cancellation of OCI registration of the United States-based Indian-origin doctor.

For alleged missionary activities in Bihar, Dr. Christo Thomas Philip had defied the cancellation of his OCI registration.

"In terms of section 7B (1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, all rights other than those specified in sub-section (2) of the said section are available to an OCI card holder. Although Article 16 of the Constitution of India is specified in Section 7B (2) of the Act, Articles 14 and 19 are not included. Thus, prima facie, the rights under Article 14 (equality before law) and 19 (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution of India which is guaranteed to the citizen of India also appear to be extended to an OCI card holder," Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.

The direction was issued by the court after discovering that one of the facts, regarding the doctor's place of birth, was "incorrect" in the report and no material on record to assist the government supposition that he was acting as a medical missionary – the ground for cancellation of his OCI registration.

"The said report indicates that the petitioner was born in the USA. This is stoutly disputed by the petitioner. He states that he was born in Kerala. Thus, one of the factual premises in the intelligence report appears to be incorrect. Although the report states that the petitioner has been acting as a medical missionary, there is no material on record, which supports this assumption," the court said.

The scheme OCI was presented in response to the demands by Indian diaspora over dual citizenship.

The plea filed by a doctor through advocates Dhiraj Philip and Robin David claimed that the action was taken against him short of evidence and no basis was existing concluding that he was involved in missionary and evangelical activities in India leading to conflict and law-and-order difficulties.

According to the petition, Philip was granted the OCI card and a lifelong visa by the government to visit India on November 22, 2012. He claimed that in the past he visited India several times to serve as a volunteer doctor with Duncan Hospital at Raxaul in Bihar from January 2014 till he was alleged "unlawfully deported" on April 26, 2016, from the IGI Airport.

Against his OCI card cancellation by the Consulate General of India at Houston, the doctor last year moved to the high court where he was asked to approach the government against the Consulate General's order and directed the authority concerned to decide his case "as expeditiously as possible".

The revisional authority upheld the Consulate General's decision which he had approached with his representation on December 22 earlier this year. In his current appeal, the medic defied the revisional authority's verdict.

Apart from that, he likewise challenged the Consulate General's August 1, 2017 conclusion to cancel his OCI card likewise the look-out circular issued against him. He also sought directions to the authorities to permit him to visit his family members in Kerala.

By Sowmya Sangam

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