Delhi HC seeks reply on Ashok Swain's plea against Centre's fresh order cancelling his OCI card

National |  IANS  | Published : Mon, Sep 11, 2023, 12:39 PM

New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice on Sweden-based professor of Indian-origin, Ashok Swain's plea challenging a fresh order issued by the Centre cancelling his Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.

Swain moved the plea on the issue again after the high court on July 10 set aside the Centre's order cancelling the OCI Card of the faculty member of peace and conflict research at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Sweden's Uppsala University.

Swain, observing that other than repeating Sections, no proper reason has been given in the order as to why his registration has been removed.

The plea was listed before the bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad, who sought response of the Centre and listed the matter for hearing next on November 9.

Swain has contended that he cannot be witch-hunted for his views on current government or its policies.

He has said that despite specific and unequivocal directions of the court to pass a detailed order, the Embassy of India to Sweden & Latvia passed the fresh order in a “callous manner” by merely para-phrasing the provisions of law.

“The Petitioner has an ailing mother aged about 78 years who is suffering from various medical ailments including Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and other age-related ailments. The Petitioner is the only son, and has not been to India in the past 3 years. Thus, there is an extreme urgency for him to visit India and attend to his ailing mother,” the plea said.

Swain has also said that he is a well-known academic and researcher, and that being an academician, he analyses and criticises certain policies of the present government.

“He cannot be made to suffer for his views on the policies of the government. As a scholar it his role in the society to discuss and critique the policies of government through his work. The petitioner cannot be witch-hunted for his views on the political dispensation of the current government or their policies.

"Criticism of certain policies of the government would not amount to being an inflammatory speech or an Anti-India activity,” the plea added.

Earlier, he had mentioned in his plea that his OCI card was cancelled in February 2022 as he criticised the current Indian government, adding that he has not delivered any inflammatory speech.

An OCI card is issued to a foreign national of Indian origin, who is allowed to live and work in India for an indefinite period.

“The respondents are directed to pass a detailed order giving the reason for exercising its power under Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act. The impugned order is set aside. The respondents are directed to complete the exercise in a period of three weeks from today," the court had said.

“This hardly is an order, doesn’t give any reasons…This hardly gives any indication of the application of mind on the matter. Pass a detailed order with reasons for cancellation," a single-judge bench of Justice Prasad had said as he perused the impugned order.

 "It is submitted that the petitioner has never engaged in any inflammatory speeches or Anti-India activities. As a scholar it is his role in society to discuss and criticise the policies of government through his work," Swain's petition read.

"Being an Academician, he analyses and criticises certain policies of the present government, mere criticism of the policies of the current ruling dispensation shall not tantamount to anti-India activities under Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act, 1955."

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