Providing relief to a Pakistan-born man who has been residing in India for 50 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Bombay High Court it has “no objection to granting extension of stay” on long term visa (LTV) basis till the end of 2018.
A bench of Justice R M Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit within two weeks “detailing the procedures that the petitioner, 52-year-old Asif Karadia, must follow so that his application for citizenship can be considered by the MHA”, with the state’s counsel stating that all necessary documents necessary for processing it was not in place.
Asif, whose father Abbas Karadia was born in undivided India at Sidhpur in Gujarat and moved to Mumbai in 1942 according to the petition, is now seeking Indian citizenship.
“His father married Zaibunnisa in May 1962, who was a Citizen of India but migrated to Pakistan before partition. She came to India under a Pakistani passport for the purpose of marriage. She then travelled to Karachi for delivery. While she returned to India after the child was born on April 19, 1965, no separate passport was issued to the infant,” stated his petition.
Meanwhile, according to a letter dated January 9, 2018, issued by the MHA, in response to his LTV application forwarded by the Maharashtra government, it has said his LTV has been extended till December 24, 2018.
Giving the status of the application, the letter reads, “The Pakistani National has been granted LTV upto 24.12.2018, subject to no local objection, no court case pending and usual checks..”
The letter further said he might be granted a new residential permit with endorsement of his LTV. “The stay of the Pakistani national may also be regularised,” said the letter.
He has also been advised to complete formalities of acquiring an Indian citizenship as and when he becomes eligible for the same. “The Government of Maharashtra is to ensure the same. His overstay may be regularised after charging applicable penalty,” said the letter.
On Tuesday, the bench led by Justice Borde took note of this and asked the state government to inform Karadia what steps he should follow to apply for an Indian citizenship.
Karadia had approached the high court in December 2016 when his previous LTV expired and the authorities refused to extend the visa unless he produced a Pakistani passport.
He said he had been living in India on Patthe Bapu Rao Marg, earning his living by working at a local restaurant, paying taxes, and had Indian identity
proofs such as an Aadhaar card, a ration card, a PAN card, and even a voter ID card but he had no passport.
His citizenship application has also been pending before the government for over seven years.
He had, therefore, approached the court through his advocates Ashish Mehta and Sujay Kantawala, seeking that the deportation notice against him be stayed, and his LTV be extended until the Union government decided on his citizenship application.
In 2016, another bench of the court had denied him any interim relief observing that even if a person was entitled to an Indian citizenship, he
or she could not “at any given time, be authorised to reside in the country without valid papers”.
This bench had also ordered an inquiry into how the Central government had been issuing him long term visas for so many years when Karadia had
neither an Indian nor a Pakistani passport.
However, in January 2017, a division bench led by Justice S C Dharamadhikari observed that Karadia’s case was “unique” and in an interim order directed the state and the Centre not to take any coercive action against him.