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Delhi HC seeks Centre’s response to Sweden-based professor Ashok Swain’s plea against cancellation of OCI card

Swain claimed that he received a show cause notice from the Indian Embassy whereby his OCI card was arbitrarily barred on the alleged premise that he was indulging in “inflammatory speeches and anti-India activities”.

Ashok Swain is a professor and the head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. (Twitter/ @ashoswai)

The Delhi High Court Thursday sought the Centre’s response to Sweden-based professor Ashok Swain’s plea challenging the cancellation of his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card by the Indian Embassy in Sweden.

The matter was listed before a single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh who at the outset said she will only issue notices at this stage. The respondents – the Ministry of Home Affairs, External Affairs Ministry and the Indian Embassy in Sweden and Latvia – have been given four weeks’ time to file their reply and the matter is next listed on February 7, 2023.

Swain is a professor and the head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. He is also a UNESCO Chair on International Water Cooperation since 2007. Swain, who has been living in Sweden for the past 32 years, was granted an OCI card on January 14, 2020, by the Centre.

Swain claimed that he received a show cause notice on October 6, 2020, from the Indian Embassy whereby his OCI card was arbitrarily barred on the alleged premise that he was indulging in “inflammatory speeches and anti-India activities”. He said that no specific instances or materials were referred to in the show cause notice to “substantiate such bald allegations or drastic measures undertaken by the Respondents”. He added that he replied to the notice in November 2020, asking for the reasons or materials to corroborate the allegations but did not receive any response from the authorities.

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He claimed that on February 8, 2022, the Indian Embassy without hearing him, arbitrarily passed an order cancelling his OCI card. Swain had alleged that the order passed on February 8 is “ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and non-est in law”. The plea contended that the order is “non-speaking and unreasoned… which has been passed without any application of Judicial Mind, to the extent that it deems to be a routine/mechanical exercise of power”. Swain alleged that he is unaware of the grounds on which a show cause notice under the Citizenship Act and the proceedings emanating therefrom, have been instituted against him.

He has claimed that he has never engaged in any inflammatory speeches or anti-India activities and as a scholar, his role is to “discuss and critique the policies of the Government through his work”.

“Being an Academician, he analyses and criticises certain policies of the present government, mere criticism of the policies of the current ruling dispensation shall not tantamount to anti-India activities under Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act, 1955,” the plea claimed.

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Swain said that his 77-year-old mother is suffering from various medical ailments and hence it is extremely urgent for him to visit India and attend to her. He has further said that he moved a revision application against the February order on September 29, however the same has not been adjudicated upon till now.

First published on: 08-12-2022 at 15:10 IST
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