The Supreme Court Tuesday suspended a government order cancelling the Person-of-Indian Origin (PIO) card given to supermodel Ujjwala Raut's British husband and asking him to leave India.
While halting the imminent deportation of Raut's estranged husband Craig Maxwell Sterry, a bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi asked the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court to decide by Sep 14 Maxwell's lawsuit challenging the cancellation of his PIO card.
The bench suspended the Aug 10 order that cancelled the PIO card till Sterry's lawsuit challenging its cancellation is decided by the Goa bench. Sterry is a Briton but has been residing in Goa after marrying Raut.
Conveying the central government's Aug 10 order about cancellation of his PIO card Aug 20, the Goa government asked Maxwell to leave India within 72 hours. This forced Maxwell to go into hiding fearing he might be caught by the police and deported to Britain.
Sterry, who was present in the court room during the hearing of his lawsuit, hailed the Indian judiciary. "(My) trust in the Indian judicial system has strengthened. This order shows that the judicial system in India is correct and it works properly and correctly.
"It's a great relief for me that now I will not have to be on the run and in hiding," said Sterry. "My wife wanted me to be thrown out of here."
Earlier, appearing for Sterry, advocate Devdatt Kamat argued that his client, an international film producer, has been left "running helter-skelter" by his supermodel wife who was accused of using her connections to get the PIO card cancelled.
Questioning the government order cancelling Sterry's PIO card, Kamat pointed out that this was done saying his stay in India would jeopardise public interest.
Terming the government's rationale far fetched, Kamat pleaded with the court to cancel the order.
In his lawsuit, Sterry said he married Raut in New York in 2002.
Sterry said that as his wife was reluctant to give up her modelling career, he gave up his business of film production to babysit their daughter Ksha, born to them in June 2005.
Sterry told the court that his marriage eventually turned sour, with his wife moving a Mumbai family court for divorce in 2008.
Sterry alleged that his wife "being an extremely influential and powerful person has created havoc in his life by lodging false complaints against him".
He said his wife got his PIO card cancelled by misusing her influence over bureaucrats.