14 May 2011

Vague doubt no reason for deportation: High Court

Having found that the deportation of an Indian citizen mid-way on his outward journey was on basis of vague and unsubstantied allegations, the Delhi High Court in a recent decision in Balwinder Singh v. Union of India imposed costs on the Ministry while also directing the allegations against the citizen to be set-aside. Being of the view that the citizen had "needlessly suffered hardship and trauma due to the arbitrary acts" of the Government, the High Court sternly noted the action to be violative of the life and personal liberty of the citizen, guaranteed by the Constitution to all citizens.

The High Court inter alia observed as under;
15. The conduct of the Respondents in the present case displays utter callousness in dealing with the life and liberty of the citizen. The Petitioner had valid travel papers and work permit for employment in Spain. He had already commenced his employment in Spain. He was returning to Spain to resume his employment after briefly visiting India during vacations. During the stop-over of his flight from New Delhi to Spain at Brussels, he was stopped and subsequently deported to New Delhi on 22nd February 2010. He was not permitted to travel by the BID, on the ground that he was an „imposter‟ and that he held a “fraudulent” visa and fraudulent residence permit. It is now clear that this determination by the BID, which formed the basis of the Petitioner‟s deportation, was wholly erroneous.
16. What is unfortunate is that when the Petitioner arrived in New Delhi, pursuant to such deportation no effort was made by the airport immigration authorities in New Delhi to make any proper inquiry. A copy of the seizure report of the Indian Immigration Control at the IGI Airport, (which is at Annexure P-5 to the petition), gives the reasons for seizure of the Petitioner‟s passport and travel documents as under: “The residential permit of Spain seems to be doubtful.”
17. The affidavits and documents placed on record in this petition by the FRRO shows that there was no basis for the above „doubt‟ as to genuineness of the Petitioner‟s residence permit. No attempt was made to verify this from the Embassy of Spain. Instead, the FRRO straightway sent the papers to the police and an FIR was registered against the Petitioner under Sections 419/420/468/471 IPC. The present petition was filed on 17th August 2010. Notice was issued on 20th August 2010 and accepted by counsel for the Respondents on that date. Yet till 10th January 2011 no attempt was made by the FRRO to write to the Embassy of Spain to verify the genuineness of the Petitioner‟s residence permit. The Police on its part also made no effort to make inquiries with the Embassy of Spain till 22nd February 2011. Within ten days of such inquiry, Embassy of Spain confirmed the genuineness of the Petitioner‟s documents. This then led to the immediate closure of the criminal case. Had this inquiry been made soon after the deportation of the Petitioner, the criminal case would have been unnecessary. He may have been able to immediately return to Spain to resume his employment. On account of the utter negligence and callousness on the part of the Respondents, the Petitioner had to needlessly undergo the trauma of a false criminal case against him for over one year and suffer the deprivation of his passport and travel documents. He was unable to return to Spain to resume his employment. The direct consequence of the arbitrary action of the Respondents has been irreversible loss of employment and earning of the Petitioner, apart from the mental trauma undergone as a result of the false criminal case. 
18. This Court expresses its displeasure with the manner in which the Respondents have violated the life and liberty of the Petitioner. There has been an undoubted violation of the Petitioner's fundamental rights under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution. The Petitioner has needlessly suffered hardship and trauma due to the arbitrary acts of the Respondents. In the circumstances, this Court considers it appropriate to direct that Respondents shall compensate the Petitioner in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- which will be paid by the Union of India in the Ministry of External Affairs to him within a period of four weeks from today. The Respondent Union of India will also pay to the Petitioner litigation expenses of Rs. 5,000/- within a period of four weeks from today. The Respondents will immediately return to the Petitioner, if not already done, all the documents seized from him.
19. It is clarified that it is open to the Petitioner to institute other appropriate proceedings in accordance with law for recovery of damages for the loss and hardship suffered by him. The passport of the Petitioner as stated by him is valid upto 16th January 2016. However, if the Petitioner requires any re-validation of the passport or new passport, upon his making application in that regard the needful be done by the RPO, Jalandhar, Respondent No. 3, expeditiously and in any event not later than four weeks from the date of making of such application.


jc said...

Thank you Tarun for your blog. I am enjoying reading them. Wrt the index case, I was intrigued by the following from the 'facts of the case' : that Balwinder was prevented from using the BID for for the purposes of traveling to Spain. I wonder: IF he was not a Spanish citizen, could he have BID? IF he was, could he still be an Indian citizen? OCI having been noted.

jc said...

Tarun, pl ignore the previous comment from me. It is possible that BID has a different meaning than Identity Card in this case. Thanks.