As a US citizen of Indian descent contested a deportation order last week, the Bombay High Court ruled that a foreigner, even one of Indian origin, has no right to determine what constitutes a “minor” or “major” infraction of visa rules.
The HC dismissed Shivam Punjya’s argument that exceeding the allotted time on a tourist visa by around 18 days was only a minor infringement.
The bench added, “If a person is of Indian origin, we expect the person all the more to adhere completely to the laws, rules, and regulations of this country. We view with extreme displeasure such attempts by foreigners to claim higher rights.”
The HC judgement published on Tuesday included, “No foreigner gains that right only by claiming to be of Indian origin. There is no such thing as a minor or major infraction of a visa condition. There is either an infraction or there is compliance. Any person anywhere in violation of an entry and stay visa condition is liable to deportation from that country.”
On February 16, attorney Drishti Khurana filed a petition with the High Court on behalf of Punjya, claiming that he had been unexpectedly served with an exit order ordering him to leave India on February 18 without warning. The petition is “without substance,” the HC ruled in its ruling dated February 17 after hearing Khurana.
Punjya claimed he had requested a permit for an extension or re-entry but was initially told to leave by February 18.
“Rightly so,” the HC remarked, adding that after his departure, he might seek a new visa.
According to the Center’s counsel, Rui Rodrigues, his application for re-entry or a new visa would be evaluated on its own merits once he leaves the country. Asserting that Rodrigues’ remark “provides the necessary balance,” the HC approved it.
HC emphasised, “Nobody has given the petitioner authority to decide which visa condition he will follow and which he will breach by calling it ‘minor’.”
“We cannot help wondering if, in his chosen country of citizenship, the United States of America, such an argument by an Indian citizen would be countenanced for a second,” HC added.
The petitioner claimed that he was entitled to a hearing at which HC said, “We do not see how a person who violates a clear visa condition can claim such legal entitlements. If there is a requirement that the petitioner must leave the country, he must leave the country. That alone will establish his bona fides and his willingness to abide by all visa conditions”.