Clearing the way for a Ghana national to return to his country with his Indian family- wife and two minor kids, the Bombay High Court has directed the concerned authorities to let the family pass through immigration and board their flights out of India.
A division bench of justices Gautam Patel and Nitin Jamdar on Friday said: “We are inclined to allow the Petitioners and their two minor children to leave the country provided they do so before 15th February 2022…. The Respondents are, therefore, directed to permit the Petitioners to travel, i.e. to pass through immigration and board their flights out of India.”
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the husband seeking quashing of the “Leave India” notice issued in July 2017. The man had come to India in 2012 to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree from a University in Pune. On arrival, he registered with the Foreigner Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), Pune. According to their counsel Mihir Desai, he married in India in October 2014. The wife shifted to Bangalore in December 2015 for employment purposes.
The husband had to return to Ghana in June 2016 as his father passed away. Since he had a return visa, he was permitted to return to India. He too then shifted to Bangalore with his wife and registered with FRRO there.
Their first son was born in July 2016. The court noted that the child has a valid Indian passport and is an Indian citizen. As per the norms, the husband had to apply for an extension of his visa, at least two months before its expiry on 27 July 2016. However, he could not apply for the same for various reasons, said Desai.
Thereafter, he visited the FRRO in Bangalore which insisted on the wife’s presence which was not possible because she had just delivered. Ultimately, he was served with a ‘Leave India Notice’ on 31 July 2017 which he challenged before the HC. Their second son was born in October 2019. However, Desai argued that the couple had decided to leave India and reside in Ghana with the husband’s family.
The judges expressed concern over the wife and kids leaving India without acquiring its citizenship. “What if they are made to leave Ghana on reaching there? We do not want such a situation,” said Justice Patel.
“We were also concerned about whether the wife and the two children could safely return to India should that need arise in future,” said the judges as her father resides in Sangli.
The husband filed an affidavit explaining that being a citizen of Ghana, he can return to that country without a Visa. Under the Citizenship Act of Ghana 2000, their two children are eligible for citizenship of Ghana and the wife may apply for citizenship there.
The husband assured the court that they would apply for the wife’s citizenship in Ghana. They also confirmed that the wife and the children have valid Visas for Ghana for twelve months from 7 October 2021.
The HC has also directed the Immigration Authorities to allow the wife and the two minor children entry into the country provided they are travelling on valid Indian passports.
Even if they obtain citizenship of Ghana and are required to surrender their Indian passport, the HC has said that they should be permitted entry on a valid visa since they will be Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) by birth.
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