7 Feb 2023 6:02 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted further four weeks’ time to the Central Government for filing its response on a plea filed by academic Ashok Swain, who is a professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, against cancellation of his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card by the Indian Embassy.Justice Prathiba M Singh clarified that no further time shall...
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted further four weeks’ time to the Central Government for filing its response on a plea filed by academic Ashok Swain, who is a professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, against cancellation of his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card by the Indian Embassy.
Justice Prathiba M Singh clarified that no further time shall be given to the Union of India for filing its response, if the same is not done within time.
“Let a counter affidavit be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder within two weeks. List on top of the board on April 27,” the court said.
The court had issued notice on the plea on December 8 last year. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs as well as the Embassy of India to Sweden and Latvia are respondents in the case.
Swain, who is also a UNESCO Chair on International Water Cooperation since 2007, was granted the OCI card on January 14, 2020. He has argued that he cannot be "witch-hunted" for his views on the political dispensation of the current government or their policies.
In his plea moved through Advocate Aadil Singh Boparai, Swain has said that he received a show cause notice in October 2020 "arbitrarily barring" the OCI Card on the alleged premise that he was "indulging in inflammatory speeches and anti-India activities."
Swain, who is a citizen of Sweden, has argued that no specific instance or particulars were cited in the show-cause notice for substantiating the barring of his OCI card.
The plea states that while he replied to the show cause notice on November 25, 2020 and vehemently denied the allegations made therein, he has not receive any response or materials from the authorities.
The Embassy of India to Sweden and Latvia on February 8 last year cancelled Swain's OCI Card under Section 7D(e) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, according to the petition.
Swain has argued that the action violates his fundamental right to free movement and other rights accorded to him by virtue of his OCI status.
It has been submitted that the impugned order is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and a non speaking order which has been passed in "mechanical exercise of power."
"It is submitted that the Petitioner has never engaged in any inflammatory speeches or Anti-India activities. As a scholar it his role in the society to discuss and critique the policies of Government through his work. 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," the plea states.
The plea adds that Swain had also made a revision application against the impugned order on September 29, 2022, however, the same has not been decided yet. Apart from seeking quashing of the impugned order, Swain has also sought direction for decision on his revision application within a period of four weeks.
Case Title: Ashok Swain v. Union of India & Ors.