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Vice News Journalist Angad Singh Blacklisted, Depicted Country In Negative Manner In ‘India Burning’ Documentary: Centre to Delhi HC

Nupur Thapliyal
27 Jan 2023 8:21 AM GMT
Vice News Journalist Angad Singh Blacklisted, Depicted Country In Negative Manner In ‘India Burning’ Documentary: Centre to Delhi HC

The Central Government on Friday informed Delhi High Court that Vice News journalist Angad Singh has been blacklisted despite being an OCI holder. It also said he had depicted India in a "negative manner" in the “India Burning” documentary.

Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing Singh’s plea against the Central Government’s refusal to permit his entry to India. Singh was deported from Delhi to New York in August last year.

Central Government counsel Anurag Ahluwalia told court that Singh is a “blacklisted subject” as he violated section 11A of the Foreigners Order, 1948 which prohibits a foreigner from producing any picture, film or documentary without permission in writing from the Centre.

Ahluwalia also submitted that Singh was entering India on a journalist visa for personal visit, thus contrary to the purpose for which visa was issued to him.

FRRO in an affidavit told the court that Singh was blacklisted at the instance of Consulate General of India in New York.

In his plea, Singh has challenged the action of refusing him entry in India as illegal and violative of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India. He has also challenged the refusal to grant him a Special Permit "further to his application made on 22 September 2021".

It is Singh’s case that he is an OCI card holder which was issued to him initially in March 2007 and was renewed later in August 2018.

Singh’s counsel Advocate Swathi Sukumar submitted that under the provisions of Citizenship Act, OCI card holders have all the rights as recognized by the Constitution of India, except for certain rights as mentioned under section 7B (2).

It was also submitted that under section 7D, OCI cards cannot be cancelled on any grounds except mentioned therein.

Reliance was also placed on proviso of section 7D which states that no order for cancellation of OCI card shall be passed unless the cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The counsel further stated that Singh’s OCI card is still valid and that even as per the counter affidavit filed by Centre, although he is stated to have been blackisted but the OCI card has not yet been cancelled.

During the hearing, Ahluwalia sought some time to seek instructions and file response as to whether any show cause notice or proceedings were commenced against Singh for cancellation of his OCI card.

Accepting the request, the court said, “let the affidavit be filed within two weeks. List on February 28 at the top of board.”

Singh had applied for permission to shoot a documentary in India in January 2020 for republic day celebration and other events and was issued a permit. However, since he couldn’t visit immediately, he again applied for second permission which was granted to him on January 30, 2021.

In 2021, he again applied for a special permit to cover some event and interviews which was rejected. In respect of his application regarding the rejection, no response was received by him. He then applied for shooting a food show in September 2021 and was rejected permit for the same.

It is his case that in August last year, he wanted to travel to India on personal visit as he has roots in the country and also has relatives here. However, he was not permitted to enter India on arrival and was deported back.

Singh's documentaries on the Shaheen Bagh protest and second wave of COVID-19 in India have received Emmy nominations.

In his plea, Singh has also sought to restrain the Centre and other authorities from denying or restricting his entry in the country in accordance with rights provided under Section 7B of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The provision pertains to OCI Card Holders.

He has also sought disclosure of the materials, records and data relating to him held or maintained by the Centre.

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