Mumbai-born supermodel Ujjwala Raut’s estranged British husband Craig Maxwell Sterry has appealed to the Supreme Court to protect his status as a Person of Indian Origin.
With the Centre, on August 10, cancelling his PIO card (issued on October 11, 2006) (see box on PIO), Sterry faces imminent deportation from India. On Friday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan refused an urgent hearing of his petition challenging the cancellation.
Raut married model-turned-entrepreneur Sterry in 2004, in New York, in a high-wattage ceremony with guests including David Bowie and his supermodel wife Iman, and supermodels Anne Vyalitsyna and Liya Kebede for bridesmaids.
Following careers that took them in different directions around the world, the marriage became strained to the point where Raut filed for divorce in a Mumbai family court in 2008. Since then, things have got increasingly bitter, with much of the messier turn of events playing out in Goa, where the couple has a house. It is where both sides have filed criminal cases against each other.
Sterry has been directed to leave India within 72 hours, failing which coercive steps will be taken against him. A Goa bench of the Bombay High Court refused an urgent hearing of his plea. The Supreme Court refused the urgent hearing saying he had not yet surrendered, and fixed Tuesday to take up his petition.
Represented by counsel Devadatt S. Kamat, Sterry has contended that cancelling his PIO card without giving him an opportunity to be heard violates the principles of natural justice, saying the cancellation order was arbitrary, mala fide and made with ulterior motives.
His petition says he has not been involved in any anti-social activities, has an excellent record and has not misused the privileges of a PIO holder.
Sterry has said he gave up his film production business to take care of their daughter Ksha (born June 2005) because his wife was reluctant to give up her modelling career.
He has also alleged that Raut has used her influence to lodge false complaints against him, and get his PIO card cancelled, to eventually have him thrown out of the country.