MEA fined for prosecuting deported man having valid documents

"The conduct of respondents (MEA, Foreigner Regional Registration Offices and Regional Passport Officer) in the present case display utter callousness in dealing with the life and liberty of the citizen. The petitioner (Balwinder Singh) had valid travel papers and work permit for employment in Spain," Justice S Muralidhar said.

Singh, a resident of Jalandhar who was having a valid passport and a working Spanish visa, was not allowed to board a connecting flight for Spain at Brussels in Belgium on February 21 last year during his return journey from Delhi.

He had taken up an employment as peon at a firm in Spain during 2007 and had come to India on a short vacation.

The officials at Brussels detained and later deported him saying that he was an "impostor" as he held a "fraudulent" visa and other documents.

Singh's woes did not end as the officials of FRRO did not bother to verify his documents either with Spanish embassy or with Regional Passport office here and rather prosecuted him, the plea filed by advocate Ajay Kumar Pipaniya said.

"On account of utter negligence and callousness on the part of MEA and others, Singh had to needlessly undergo trauma of a false criminal case against him for over one year and suffer the deprivation of his passport and travel documents.

"He was unable to return to Spain to resume his employment. The direct consequence of arbitrary action of the Respondents has been irreversible loss of employment and his earning, apart from the mental trauma undergone as a result of the false criminal case," the court said.

Taking note of Singh's plight, the court also granted him liberty to file a separate case for "recovery of damages" for the loss and "hardship" suffered at the hands of officials in Brussels and New Delhi.

It also expressed anguish over shoddy probe and said if Indian officials had taken a prompt action, Singh would not have lost his livelihood.

"What is unfortunate is that when the petitioner arrived in New Delhi, pursuant to such deportation no effort was made by the airport immigration authorities in New Delhi to make any proper inquiry," the court said.

The court, in its judgement, said Singh could have been saved from the trauma of facing the criminal prosecution if the concerned departments had checked up the facts.

"Had this inquiry been made soon after the deportation of the petitioner, the criminal case would have been unnecessary. He may have been able to immediately return to Spain to resume his employment," the court said.

"The petitioner has needlessly suffered hardship and trauma due to the arbitrary acts of the respondents," it said and asked the MEA to pay the money within four weeks to Singh and return him his documents.

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