The Karnataka High Court rejected the petition of a Yemen National seeking directions against the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (Registration Officer/Third Respondent) for visa extension.

The Court noted that the Petitioner attempted to misuse Section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (Act) by presenting fraudulent documents, including evidence of a criminal case against him for visa fraud.

The Court directed the Registration Officer to investigate the authenticity of the hospital certificates, urging scrutiny to determine their veracity.

The sealed cover would reveal that the petitioner is working as an agent and has brought in several Yemen nationals to India and got them employment in several places, again all on the strength of medical certificates or documents issued by Trustwell Hospital”, the Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna observed.

Advocate Ruha Latif appeared for the Petition and Deputy Solicitor General H. Shanthi Bhushan appeared for the Union.

The Petitioner, a Yemen citizen, initially came to India in 2013 for a three-year Master of Science course but faced academic challenges and health issues, leading to a return to Yemen. Upon his subsequent visit to India in 2016, his health further declined, and he converted his visa to a medical visa. After various extensions, he applied for another visa extension, revealing his marriage to an Indian citizen and his desire for Indian citizenship. Simultaneously, he filed a Writ Petition due to the non-consideration of his citizenship application. The extension of the visa was subsequently rejected by the Registration Officer.

The Petitioner approached the High Cout challenging the cancellation/rejection of his visa extension application and sought a mandamus directing the Registration Officer to reconsider his visa extension application.

The Court noted that the petitioner's health conditions were mainly supported by medical certificates from Trustwell Hospital, Bengaluru. However, there is limited evidence of inpatient status, primarily during a brief COVID-19-related admission.

However, per the sealed cover submitted by the Deputy Solicitor General, the Court noted that the Petitioner was functioning as an agent, facilitating the entry of numerous Yemen nationals into India and securing employment for them based on medical certificates from Trustwell Hospital. Allegedly, the Petitioner was involved in a scheme where individuals from Yemen were portrayed as patients and attendants seeking medical treatment, leading to the grant of attendant visas.

Following various incidents, the Bench observed that the Petitioner married an Indian citizen. The Petitioner's claim was based on Section 5 of the Act, which pertains to citizenship by registration.

The Court noted that per section 5(1)(c) of the Act a person married to an Indian citizen, residing in India for seven years before applying for registration, may be considered for citizenship, provided they are not illegal migrants.

The Bench observed that the Petitioner entered India on a three-year student visa, returning to Yemen in May 2016. He returned on a medical attendant visa, opting for a route from Mumbai, valid for six months. Surprisingly, the visa was converted to a medical visa without thorough scrutiny. The conversion was based on a clinical report indicating high cholesterol and borderline diabetes. However, the hospital's communication lacks credibility, and the petitioner never underwent surgery for the alleged hernia, with his only admission being for COVID-19 treatment for a week.

Furthermore, the Bench noted that the Registration Officer should thoroughly investigate the authenticity of certificates issued by the hospital and not allow collusion between hospitals and foreign citizens for visa extensions. There was a need for the Registration Officer to scrutinize documents before converting visas without proper verification. The medical certificates provided do not substantiate any illness requiring treatment for the petitioner.

The Court observed that the Petitioner has attempted to exploit Section 5(1)(c) of the Act by producing false documents, including records that indicate a criminal case against him for visa fraud. He has brought his daughters to India on study visas, and despite marrying an Indian woman in 2020, his continuous stay in India for over 7 years without a valid visa and fraudulent activities, including a criminal case, justify the rejection of his visa extension. The Court emphasised the need for the Registration Officer to scrutinize visa applications more carefully and address fraudulent practices in the visa process.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Petition.

Cause Title: Mohammed Noman Ahmed Almeri v Union Of India

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