The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Jalandhar police commissioner to probe a complaint within two months against former Punjab cabinet minister Avtar Henry for being a British citizen and getting an Indian passport after changing his name.
Taking up a public interest litigation filed by RTI activist Ajay Kumar Sehgal, the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain also directed the police commissioner to register the FIR if, prima facie, a case is found to be made out against Henry as per Sehgal's complaint.
Sehgal had complained to the Jalandhar police commissioner on September 27, demanding the registration of an FIR against Henry, whose original name is Avtar Singh Sanghera, after the union ministry of home affairs had on August 16 declared that Henry had ceased to be an Indian citizen since 1969, when he obtained British citizenship and passport under the name of Avtar Singh. However, the ministry had provided liberty to Henry to apply afresh for Indian citizenship.
It was submitted that, thereafter, the regional deputy director, local government, Jalandhar, on November 30, also ordered the deletion of Henry's name from the voters' list of Jalandhar North assembly constituency. As per rules, a foreign national can neither be enrolled as a voter in India nor can he/she contest the assembly elections.
The court was informed that Henry had come to India on a British passport and had applied for an Indian passport on the name of 'Avtar Henry". He also registered as a voter as Avtar Henry from Jalandhar North.
Henry, projecting himself as an Indian citizen, had contested the Punjab assembly elections six times from 1986 to 2012 and was a cabinet minister in the 2002-07 Congress regime, the petitioner submitted.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate HC Arora informed the court that despite the submission of the petitioner's representation to the Jalandhar police commissioner on September 27, he had not received any response till date.