The Bombay high court has come to the aid of a Pakistani national, who claims to be a Sufi saint living in India since 2010, and granted a temporary stay on his impending deportation.
A bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardessai also issued notices to the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the state government, seeking a clarification on the government’s rules over extension of visa for those whose citizenship applications are pending, and all recourses available for such cases.
The bench issued the directions following a plea filed by the Pakistani national Syed Waseem Ur Rehman, seeking that his and his wife’s deportation to Pakistan be stayed and that their visa be extended.
Rehman claimed in his plea that he inherited the title of the Sufi saint and the charge of several shrines in the city and elsewhere in the country from his grandfather. He said his grandfather was born in India and lived in India till his death in 1990. He said his grandfather headed a Sufi sect and helped build and maintain several shrines. His grandfather willed his title and the charge of shrines to him.
Rehman’s father, however, chose to go to Pakistan after partition and Rehman and the rest of his family are Pakistani citizens. He said that he and his family kept visiting India on a valid visa.
He came to India with his wife in October 2010 and has been living in the country since then, getting his visa extended from time to time. His application seeking Indian citizenship is pending with the MEA.
On November 16 this year, he received a notice from the MEA, stating that his visa expired on November 18 and that he would be deported.
He approached HC seeking relief.
He also argued that he had “followed all legal procedures for his past visits to stay in India and if he was deported now, he would forfeit the benefit of having lived in India for six out of the seven mandatory years to claim citizenship.
The Union government, meanwhile, through its counsel Rui Rodrigues, argued that the couple’s deportation was imminent. He also argued that Rehman had a criminal writ petition pending against him in the high court and sought time to take instructions form the ministry.
While granting him time, the bench also stayed the MEA’s deportation notice against Rehman and his wife and said the ministry must not take “any coercive action” based on the notice until further orders.
The high court is likely to take up the matter for further hearing on December 1.