Mumbai: Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which provides for equality before law, applies not only to citizens but also to 'non-citizens' in India, observed the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court.
A division bench of Justices Mahesh Sonak and Bharat Deshpande recently directed the authorities not to deport a foreign national as they had failed to seek clarification from her in alleged breach of visa conditions.
"At least a clarification could have been sought from the petitioner and upon considering the same, a decision could have been taken. This was not done. Therefore, on this short ground, we set aside the impugned deportation order," the court said.
Principles of natural justice and fair play
The HC said that the authorities ought to have complied with the “principles of natural justice and fair play” considering that the foreign national claimed that she had not violated any of her Visa conditions.
"Principles of natural justice and fair play are an essential concomitant of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. This Article protects not only the citizens but also non-citizens," the bench said.
The judges emphasised that the Central government must exercise its deportation powers fairly. It said: “Whilst the Central Government is vested with wide powers in matters of deportation, such powers must be exercised fairly and without any hint of arbitrariness. This was not some case of threat to internal security of the country or like matters.”
The HC quashed the deportation order passed on May 17.
Foreign national was granted work visa
According to the authorities, the foreign national was granted a "work Visa", but had indulged in "business" thereby violating visa conditions.
The bench, however, noted that the foreign national had resigned from her company so there was no doubt about compliance with the terms and conditions of the Visa. Besides, after resignation, the foreign national had applied for a dependency visa. The same was rejected in view of the deportation order passed against her in May.
Granting relief, the high court directed the authorities to reconsider her dependency visa within two months and meanwhile directed not to deport her.