Refusing to extend the long term visa of a man who was born in Pakistan but brought up in India and has been living in the country for 49 years now, the Bombay High Court expressed “surprise” that such a visa was issued to him earlier, considering he did not have a Pakistani passport. Stating that the issue needs to be considered seriously, the court has asked the Government of India to investigate the matter.
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The man, Abbas Karadia, is now seeking citizenship of India. Karadia’s father was “born in in undivided India at Sidhpur in Gujarat and moved to Mumbai in 1942”, according to the petition. In May 1962, he married a woman of Indian citizenship who had migrated to Pakistan before partition.
“She came to India under a Pakistani passport for marriage. She then travelled to Karachi for delivery. While she returned to India after her child was born on April 19, 1965, no separate passport was issued to the infant,” states the plea.
Expressing surprise that Karadia did not possess a passport issued by Pakistan, the high court said, “He further claims that the Government of India granted him a long term visa. This needs to be seriously investigated by the Government of India.”
In 2012, when Karadia applied to travel on the Haj pilgrimage, his passport application was refused on the ground that he was not a citizen of India. He then applied for a Long Term Visa (LTV), which, according to his petition, was valid from December 26, 2012 to December 24, 2015.
He had also applied for citizenship, but that application is still pending before the Ministry of External Affairs. The LTV, which is pending before the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, has not been processed, with the police seeking his Pakistani passport, failing which he will have to leave India.
“Admittedly, Karadia is not holding a passport issued by Pakistan and has not been granted citizenship. There is no material to show that a visa was granted to him since 2013. We failed to understand how this prayer for extension of visa can be granted,” said Justice A S Oka, questioning how the petitioner had been residing in the country without a passport.
The petitioner’s counsel Sujay Kantawala said the petitioner and his family had tried to get in touch with authorities in Karachi and written to them for obtaining the passport of his mother to show that no separate passport was issued to him, but there had been no response from Pakistan in this regard.
The matter has been kept for further hearing on January 9 next year.