The Bombay High Court has recently observed that the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card issued to a person of foreign origin on spouse basis can be cancelled upon dissolution of marriage by a competent court.
The court rejected a writ plea by a Canadian citizen, who challenged the notices issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asking her to surrender her OCI cards after dissolution of her marriage to an Indian citizen.
On October 27, a bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Milind N Jadhav refused to interfere with the notices issued to the Canadian woman, who was married to a Bhopal resident, to surrender her OCI card following their divorce.
The petitioner, LeeAnne, got married to Arunoday Singh, an Indian citizen, in 2016 and was issued an OCI card. She had received her first notice from the MHA on January 17 this year, asking her to surrender the OCI card since her marriage was dissolved. On January 24, a family court in Bandra, Mumbai, passed an order of status quo regarding a flat in Mumbai and embryos preserved at a cryopreservation centre. Thereafter, the MHA issued notices to LeeAnne to surrender the OCI card on February 26, June 9, July 21 and August 28.
The woman approached the HC through advocate Subhradeep Banerjee against the notices and also filed an appeal against a family court order that granted divorce and sought restitution of conjugal rights.
Advocate Dhruti Kapadia for the respondent husband and advocate D P Singh for the MHA opposed the plea and sought it to be rejected.
The bench said there was nothing wrong in the notices sent to LeeAnne and the same cannot be called illegal. The MHA cannot be restrained from issuing notices as per the Citizenship Amendment Act, the court said.
“Thus, the Central Government is empowered to register a spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India as an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder upon laid down conditions. The OCI cardholders, though remain citizens of their country, enjoy certain privileges such as multiple entry visa, exemption from foreigners registrations, parity with non-resident Indians in some aspects,” the court noted.
Rejecting the plea, the bench said, “Provisions of the Act cast a duty on the officers of respondent MHA to take necessary steps regarding the OCI card issued on spouse basis, if the marriage is dissolved by the competent court of law. Therefore, the notices/orders issued by MHA cannot be said to be illegal, nor the MHA can be restrained from giving effect to the same.”
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