The Delhi High Court has requested the Centre’s position regarding a plea filed by Professor Ashok Swain, who is based in Sweden. The plea concerns the cancellation of his Overseas Citizenship of India card through a July 30th order.
Justice Subramonium Prasad, presiding as a single-judge bench, has issued a notice to the central government. The matter has been scheduled for the next hearing on November 9.
Advocate Aadil Singh Boparai, representing Swain, has argued that the professor had previously approached the high court against a similar order issued by the Union of India in February 2022. This order was set aside on July 10, primarily due to a lack of reasoning. Boparai has contended that, on this occasion as well, no reasons were provided apart from restating the relevant section of the Citizenship Act.
Boparai further mentioned that Swain’s mother is unwell, and he is her only son, yet he has been unable to visit her in the past three years.
Swain is challenging a July 30th order from the Indian embassy that revoked his OCI card. He asserts that it is a “non-speaking order, devoid of any reason to exercise the powers under Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act.”
According to the plea, “Although it is the alleged case of the Respondent that the petitioner (Swain) was blacklisted for anti-India activities for allegedly spreading detrimental propaganda through his writings and speeches in various public forums; the Impugned Order is bereft of any particular incidence/tweet/writing or reason which remotely demonstrates the contention of the Respondent no.3 (Embassy of India to Sweden and Latvia) that the Petitioner is allegedly carrying out detrimental propaganda on public forums.”
The plea contends that the July 30th order lacks the characteristics of a well-reasoned and detailed order, as it fails to provide any material justifying the cancellation of Swain’s OCI card.
On July 10, the high court invalidated an order dated February 8, 2022, issued by the embassy. The court noted that the February 2022 order, apart from merely reciting Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act as a repetitive phrase, failed to provide any rationale for the revocation of Ashok Swain’s OCI card registration.
Justice Prasad, who presided over Swain’s earlier petition, stated in the July 10 ruling, “It is well settled that reasons act as a link between the actual decision and the thought process of the decision maker. Reasons in an order demonstrate that the order is not a result of caprice, whims, or fancies and has been arrived at after considering the facts, and it reflects and establishes that the decision was just.”
“Therefore, the Respondents are directed to pass a detailed order giving reasons for exercising powers under Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act,” it added.
In his latest application, Swain has accused the embassy of disregarding the “specific and unequivocal directives” provided in earlier rulings. He contends that the July 30 order was issued in a “callous manner,” merely restating legal provisions.
The plea goes on to assert that the order lacks justification as there is no discernible connection between the presented facts and the applicable legal framework to substantiate the exercise of such authoritative and severe measures.
Notably, Swain currently holds the position of professor and serves as the head of the Department of Peace & Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden. He was initially granted an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card on January 14, 2020.
In his appeal, there is no mention made by the government regarding specific incidents or statements that would support their assertion that Swain has been involved in “anti-India” activities.
Furthermore, Swain contends that, as an academic, he should not face persecution for expressing opinions that differ from those held by the ruling authorities.
As highlighted in Swain’s appeal, he has been unable to visit his ailing mother in India for the past three years. His mother’s residence in India, coupled with his status as her sole son, underscores the urgent need for him to travel to India and provide care, according to Swain’s petition.