A year later, UAE govt grants birth certificate to interfaith couple’s child
- The Indian couple was told that according to marriage rules for expatriates in the UAE, a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman but a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man
When 39-year-old Regulavalasala Tirumala Kalyan Chakravarthy and his 35-year-old wife Javeria Masood were blessed with a girl child in Abu Dhabi in January last year, they felt they were the most fortunate couple on the earth.
But little did they realise then that their troubles had just begun. Chakravarthy and Javeria applied for a birth certificate for their daughter, whom they named Suhakshita, from the department of health, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in the first week of February.
As per the laws of the United Arab Emirates, obtaining a visa for a new-born child of an immigrant is mandatory within four months of the delivery of the baby. Chakravarthy got a passport for his daughter from the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi, but he was shocked when his application for a birth certificate required for obtaining the visa was rejected by the health department. “The authorities told me that according to the marriage rules for expatriates in the UAE, a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman but a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man, and so, the child born to them cannot be acknowledged as per the law of the land,” Chakravarthy said, on phone from Abu Dhabi.
Chakravarthy, a Hindu, and a graduate in science from Vishakapatnam, met, fell in love and married Javeria, a Muslim and a graduate in physiotherapy. Their families approved. “We got married in 2008 with the blessings of elders from both sides. We were blessed with a son in 2011. After working for a few years in private companies, we moved to Abu Dhabi in 2018 for a better life,” he said. “We were blessed with a daughter on January 28, 2020 and we named her Suhakshita,” he said.
The couple pleaded with the UAE authorities to grant a birth certificate to their daughter, saying that they were not aware of the local rules.
Chakravarthy and Javeria sought help. “We requested local Indian associations and Indian embassy to come to our rescue. We even consulted not less than 15 lawyers and as a last resort, filed a petition in the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department in the last week of February,” he said.
According to Raja Srinivas, community welfare secretary of Indian social and cultural centre, Abu Dhabi, a person without valid visa will be treated as an illegal migrant and be penalised heavily for the period of stay in the country. “In Chakravarthy’s case, too, his child would be liable to be penalised for not having a valid visa, for the period four months after her birth. That was his concern,” Srinivas said.
As the judicial department was looking into his petition, a lockdown was imposed in the country due to coronavirus pandemic. And there was no way the issue could be settled within four months. After the lockdown rules were relaxed gradually, the couple intensified their efforts. “Luckily, we got help from good Samaritans like Raja Srinivas who took up the matter with the Ministry of Interior, UAE through the Indian embassy and continued to pursue the matter,” he said.
On February 2 this year, Chakravarthy and Javeria got a call from the judicial department to present themselves along with the daughter. “The councillor at the department heard our case patiently and asked us to come back on February 7, when he gave the order in our favour,” he said. Within hours, the couple got a call from the health department.
“On February 8, we were handed over the birth certificate for my daughter and it was a big relief for us,” Chakravarthy said.
The couple has applied for the visa for Suhakshita and is hopeful of receiving it soon. “We are grateful to the UAE government for respecting our rights,” Chakravarthy said.