March 6, 2020 2:23:54 am
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday stayed the Centre’s notice to a Polish student of Jadavpur University asking him to leave India for allegedly taking part in a protest rally against the new citizenship law (CAA) in Kolkata.
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya restrained the government from giving effect to its ‘Leave India Notice’ till March 18 when the court will pass an order on the petition filed by the student, who has said that he did not directly take part in any protest against the Indian government.
Kamil Siedczynski, who hails from Szczecin in Poland and is pursuing a Masters in the Department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, was served the notice from the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO), that comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), for allegedly engaging in anti-government activities and, therefore, violating visa norms.
The notice, dated February 14, had asked Siedczynski to leave India within 14 days of receiving it. Since Siedczynski received the notice on February 24, he was required to leave by March 9.
In his petition, Siedczynski urged the court to restrain authorities from giving effect to the notice. He also appealed to the FRRO for reconsideration since he had only four months left to complete his course and “expressed remorse stating he had learnt a lot from his mistake and he undertook not to repeat the mistake”.
Calling the Centre’s notice, “arbitrary” and contrary to principles of natural justice and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all persons under the Constitution, Siedczynski’s lawyer, Jayanta Mitra, told the High Court that on December 19, 2019, while on an outing, his client was persuaded to accompany other students of the university to an event.
Claiming that Siedczynski did so “unwittingly and out of curiosity”, Mitra told the court that the event was a peaceful protest. Mitra said that the student soon got separated from the others and stood on the sidelines when he was asked few questions by a person who also clicked his photograph. It later transpired that he was a photojournalist of a Bengali daily and the student’s picture and some related news were published in the daily later. Mitra also said that some statements had been wrongly attributed to Siedczynski in the news report.
“The court has ordered an injunction to the notice, which means the Centre cannot give effect to the notice till March 18. The matter will appear again on March 18 when the court will deliver its judgement on it,” Mitra told The Indian Express. Opposing the student’s prayer, the Central government told the High Court that being a student visa-holder, Siedczynski, a foreigner, cannot challenge a law passed by the Indian Parliament.
Lawyer Phiroze Edulji, who represented the Centre, also argued that being a foreigner, Siedczynski cannot challenge Article 19 of the Constitution, as it was not applicable to him. Edulji further submitted that the notice was served on him by the FRRO on the basis of a field report.
“The court has stayed the Centre’s ‘Leave India Notice’ to the student till March 18. On that day the court will deliver its judgement on the case,” Edulji told The Indian Express.
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