‘Stateless’ woman residing in India for 55 years moves HC seeking citizenship
A 66-YEAR-OLD woman recently approached the Bombay High Court seeking directions from authorities to grant her Indian Citizenship as she has been married to an Indian for the last 55 years and her children and grandchildren are all Indian citizens.
The woman said that she was born in Uganda to Indian-origin parents holding British passports and she had come to India on her mother’s passport in 1966 and has been residing since then but did not have any valid documents or papers. The woman married an Indian citizen in 1977.
The woman, born in September 1955 and now resides in Andheri, stated that her application for registration as an Indian citizen was rejected by the Deputy Collector of Mumbai in 2019 due to some inadvertent mistake on her part and sought directions from the HC to authorities to reconsider her application and grant her Indian citizenship.
A division bench of Justices S V Gangapurwala and S M Modak was informed by advocate Aditya Chitale appearing for the petitioner argued that she had been residing in India since 1966 when she came with her mother and wrongly mentioned on her online application that her visa was valid till 2019 and therefore, she was held not eligible for Indian citizenship by authorities, prompting her to approach the HC.
The petitioner said that she had applied for citizenship to get an Indian passport and had applied for a passport thrice and while doing so, she had tried to submit the British passports of her parents. However, she was asked to submit documents showing how she travelled to India, which she did not possess as she came to India with her mother as a minor.
The Regional Passport Office had directed the petitioner to apply for citizenship to get a passport, after which she applied for citizenship online, which was rejected by the authority.
Advocate Advait Sethna representing the Ministry of External Affairs argued that the woman could be granted citizenship if she produces a passport from a foreign country. He said that the petitioner had approached the British Embassy since her parents held British passports, however, the British Embassy refused to grant a passport as she did not possess the required documents.
Sethna assured that the petitioner could approach the Embassy in Uganda to get requisite documents from them and the Centre was not treating the petition as adversarial. After the petitioner’s lawyer sought time to take instructions from her, the bench adjourned the plea and asked the Centre to file its response to the plea by the next hearing on August 22.
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