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Ask the government to stop treating us as second-class citizens: OCI to SC | India News


NEW DELHI: Up to 80 Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), most of them residing in India, petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday to order the government to stop treating them as second-class citizens, allowing them to freely express their views and disagree. against the government and confer on them all the rights enjoyed by an Indian citizen.
Appearing for the OCIs, 57 of whom are Bengaluru residents, Chief Defender R Venkataramani told a court of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian that although they contribute a lot to India through the paying taxes and through their profession, they live in fear of losing their OCI status due to the arbitrary power vested in the government to cancel their status. The bench sought the response of the Center.
The petitioners said that government statutes and policy decisions severely restricted “the basic rights of OCIs and gave the government unbridled and unchannelled discretionary powers to rescind their citizenship. This subjects OCIs to a constant state of hardship. fear and uncertainty. Furthermore, this totally defeats the very purpose of the OCI scheme, which was unequivocally to grant dual citizenship. ”
The petitioners, led by Radhika Thappeta, a Bengaluru-based medical expert, said that Section 7D of the Citizenship Law allows the Union government to cancel OCI’s registration and prohibit them from residing in India for violating any law or showing disaffection. to the Constitution of India.
“Section 7D (b) of the law allows the government to cancel the OCI registration of a person if he shows disaffection with the Constitution of India and section 7D (da) allows the cancellation of the OCI registration for violation of any law. Both provisions of section 7D are arbitrary and have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression of OCIs, several of whom, despite being permanent residents of India, cannot express their peaceful disagreement against the State for fear that such dissent amounts to disaffection with the Constitution of India or the violation of any law thus prescribed, “they said.
While the MHA notification of November 15, 2019 allowed OCIs to practice the professions of physicians, architects, lawyers, and public accountants under the relevant laws, there was a full list of other professions that were arbitrarily set aside for no good reason. , they complained.
By limiting the number of professions that OCIs can have parity with NRIs in practice, several OCIs practicing other unlisted professions are prevented from meaningfully participating and contributing to their career streams in India. Although several OCIs reside and pay taxes in India, “such people cannot meaningfully voice their complaint to local government authorities about civic infrastructure for fear that their citizenship abroad will be canceled for expressing their right to make public complaints,” they said.
Even though OCIs worked and resided permanently in India, they often did not have the right to seek information from state authorities under the Right to Information Act, the petitioners said.
They said the November 2019 MHA notification granted adoption rights to OCIs on par with NRIs. “However, when an OCI or NRI living abroad adopts a child from India following international adoption regulations, the foreign host country often automatically grants foreign citizenship to the adopted child who has at least one of the parents as a citizen of that host country. According to Section 9 (1) of the Citizenship Act, this results in the child automatically losing his Indian citizenship without giving him any opportunity to retain his Indian citizenship upon reaching the age of majority “said the petitioners.

Times of India