Supreme Court directs release of Pakistani held in India without valid visa for over seven years

ON April 29, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrahud and Hima Kohli directed the release of a 62-year-old Pakistan national, who has been languishing in a detention centre for over seven years awaiting his deportation to Pakistan.

Mohd. Qamar entered the country in 1989-90 on a valid visa, married in Meerut, and never returned to Pakistan. In 2011, he was prosecuted under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 for staying in India without a valid visa. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail. He completed his sentence on February 6, 2015, yet he continued to remain in the detention centre under the Foreigners Act, ever since.

Ordering the release of Qamar, the bench held that his detention would not be consistent with the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution. Besides, the bench also took note of the fact that no security threat or adverse impact bearing on national security had been placed on the record.

“We are of the view that the detenue, Mohd Qamar should be released on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 5,000 with two sureties of Indian citizens in the like amount. The detenue shall furnish the address of his place of permanent residence in Meerut where he proposes to reside, to the SHO of the police station concerned and report to the local police station on the seventh day of every month pending further orders”, the bench directed.

It also directed the Union Home Affairs Ministry [MHA] to take a final decision on the representation made by the petitioner for the grant of a visa/ long term visa, having regard to all the facts and circumstances of the case and after assessing the inputs from the security angle.

Earlier, the daughter of Qamar, who approached the court for seeking the release of her father, submitted a representation to the MHA seeking the release of her father. The MHA, in turn, asked the Uttar Pradesh government to examine whether Qamar might be released from the detention centre and be allowed to stay in Uttar Pradesh [UP] on a long-term visa or a visa “as per the existing provisions/norms”.

However, the Senior Superintendent of Police [SSP], Meerut on November 26, 2020, issued a communication stating that the spouse of Qamar had stated that she was divorced from him ten years ago, and thus there was no justification for him to live in India. The SSP, therefore, opined that representation seeking his release could not be allowed. Accordingly, on November 26, 2020, the Deputy Secretary to the UP Government in the Home Department addressed a communication to the MHA declining to recommend the release of Qamar from the detention centre on the ground that he had divorced his Indian wife.

Now, the Supreme Court has also asked MHA to consider Qamar’s representation seeking long-term visa dehors the recommendation of the SSP.

Click here to read the order.

The Leaflet