A Pakistani national, who was convicted for possessing and distributing fake Indian currency notes and was released from jail last year, has approached the Bombay high court seeking permission to return to her native town, Karachi.
The division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice RD Dhanuka has directed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to file an affidavit within three weeks in reply to the petition filed by Rashida Tinwalla. The petition is posted for further hearing on March 18.
According to her plea, Tinwalla, who is in her mid-40s, came to Mumbai in September 2009 on a 45-day travel visa for Muharram and on December 23, 2009, DRI sleuths arrested her along with six others under the Customs Act on charge of smuggling counterfeit currency notes worth Rs18 lakh.
While the case was pending, the economic offences wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested her from the prison on charges of possessing and distributing fake Indian currency.
In February 2010, a special CBI court acquitted her of all charges. She, however, pleaded guilty in the case under the Customs Act and was sentenced to imprisonment for two-and-a-half years.
On September 3, 2012, Tinwalla was released from jail and she approached Special Branch-II of the Mumbai police seeking exit permit. However, the special branch denied her exit permit for want of no-objection certificate from DRI, which in turn did not concede to her request for failure to pay personal penalty of Rs4 lakh imposed upon her by a deputy commissioner of Customs.
Her counsel, Shyam Keswani, argued that under the Customs Act, defaulted penalties could be recovered only by way of attaching movable and immovable properties of the offending person, and as Tinwalla does not have any property in India, she could not be denied exit permit. Tinwalla has stated that she has been at the mercy of the people in Bhendi Bazar for basic necessities like food and shelter, and at times is required to sleep under staircases.