Pakistani Sufi cleric will have to leave India, SC says courts can’t grant visas
A Pakistani Sufi cleric’s plea to extend his and his wife’s visa was on Friday declined by the Supreme Court, which told him that it was not for courts to grant or reject visas.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra refused to get drawn into Syed Waseem Ur Rehman’s submission that Sufism faced serious threats from Islamist terrorists in Pakistan where around 100 people died in a suicide bomb blast on Thursday.
Rehman and his wife Sayeda Saima Waseem Ur Rehman had moved the SC against the government’s decision to let him stay in India. The couple has been living in Mumbai since 2010 and working as ‘sajjadanashin’ (caretaker) of a Sufi shrine in Mumbai.
Their counsel, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, said there were no adverse reports against her clients during their seven-year stay in India.
She urged the court to show a humane approach towards the couple, an argument the court was not inclined to accept. The bench said it was for the government to take such decisions.
Arora’s request to direct the authorities to consider the petitioners’ visa applications “compassionately” and extend their visas for 10 days was also declined.
The couple approached the top court after the Bombay High Court gave no relief.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar opposed their petition on behalf of the Centre before the SC. He said the petitioners had given an undertaking before the Bombay high court to leave the country, but instead they moved the top court.
The HC on February 3 had dismissed their plea against the November 11, 2016 order of the foreigner regional registration officer in Mumbai that refused to extend their visas without assigning any reasons.
The couple was living in India since October 18, 2010 on a valid X-type visa that was extended by the authorities from time to time. This category of visa is prescribed for persons of Indian origin and subject to conditions that he/she should not engage in any business or employment nor his/her name should figure in any ration card or electoral roll, the petitioners told the SC.