The Bombay High Court said that it is not for a foreigner to decide what constitutes a minor infraction and major infraction of a visa condition.

A Division Bench comprising Justice G.S. Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale observed, “It is not for a foreigner to decide what constitutes a ‘minor’ infraction and what constitutes a ‘major infraction’. No foreigner gains that right only by claiming to be of Indian origin. There is no such thing as a minor or major infraction of a visa condition. There is either an infraction or there is compliance. Any person anywhere in violation of an entry and stay visa condition is liable to deportation from that country. That is why visas have prescribed validity periods.”

The Bench was dealing with a plea filed by an Indian-origin foreigner who was asked to leave India.

Advocate Drishti Khurana appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Advocate Rui Rodrigues appeared on behalf of the respondent.

In this case, the petitioner was a US citizen and of Indian origin. He had a tourist visa which was valid for a limited time. The petitioner was in violation of his visa condition, i.e., he previously did not leave the country before the expiry of that visa. He overstayed and remained in India beyond the time permitted by his tourist visa by about 18 days. He claimed that it was a ‘minor’ infraction.

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court said, “If a person is of Indian origin then all the more we expect that person to adhere completely to the laws, rules and regulations of this country. We view with extreme displeasure such attempts by foreigners to claim higher rights.”

The Court noted that nobody gave the authority to the petitioner to decide which visa condition he would follow and which he would breach by calling it ‘minor’.

The Court also noted, “It is worse that the Petitioner arrogates to himself the authority to decide what to follow, what to call minor, what to transgress because he is ‘of Indian origin’.”

It was further asserted by the Court that being of Indian origin is not an exemption from obeying the law.

“We cannot help wondering if, in his chosen country of citizenship, the United States of America, such an argument by an Indian citizen would be countenanced for a second. … We do not see how a person who violates a clear visa condition can claim such legal entitlements (apart from conferring on himself some dubious authority to decide the quality of the admitted violation). If there is a requirement that the Petitioner must leave the country, then he must leave the country. That alone will establish his bona fides and his willingness to abide by all visa conditions”, observed the Court.

The Court, therefore, said that once the petitioner has left India, he may apply for a fresh visa or re-entry.

Accordingly, the Court rejected the writ petition.

Cause Title- Shivam Sunil Punjya v. Union of India through the Secretary

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