INDIA: In a recent case, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court that foreigners registered as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders because of their marriage to Indian nationals, after their divorce cannot continue to enjoy the OCI status.
The submission has been made by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) following the decision of the Indian Embassy in Brussels, Belgium asking a Belgian woman to surrender her OCI card after her divorce from an Indian national. In her defense, the woman has challenged a provision of the Citizenship Act in the high court, under which a foreign spouse of an Indian national would lose the OCI status on divorce.
“The provision has the object of cancellation of registration as an OCI cardholder of such foreigners as they are no more eligible under the Citizenship Act, 1955,” defending the provision, the MHA said in its affidavit.
The ministry has said that on the basis of her marriage with an Indian national, the woman was issued a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) by the Embassy of India, Brussels, Belgium on 21 August 2006. The ministry added that the woman got divorced in October 2011, however, the PIO card was not canceled immediately. Further, in 2017, an OCI card was inadvertently issued to her despite not being married to an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder at that time. The ministry has also claimed that the woman’s OCI status has not been withdrawn yet and she was only requested to surrender the card, she shall be given a chance to explain her stand before taking any action to cancel her registration as an OCI cardholder.
The woman has contended that asking her to surrender her OCI card has no basis in law and has also mentioned in her petition that she received when the Indian system merged the POI and OCI schemes. Under this basis, she has claimed in her plea that the cancellation of her OCI card in case of divorce is not applicable to her.
She has also said that she has a daughter with her ex-husband, who holds an OCI card and since traveling to India is not possible owing to the pandemic, their card was the only hope of coming here to meet relatives.