NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre not to revoke till April 15 the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status of controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi's daughter, who has moved a plea seeking grant of an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.
According to a Government of India notification of January 2015, all PIO card holders are deemed to be OCI card holders.
However, when Qureshi's daughter, Pernia Qureshi, applied for the OCI status, she was informed that she was ineligible as her mother and grand parents were Pakistani citizens.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru granted her the interim relief, saying she was an Indian citizen for 12 years before becoming a PIO card holder.
He directed the ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs and the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) not to revoke her PIO/OCI card till the next date of hearing on April 15.
The ministries, represented by central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, had contended that according to a provision in the Citizenship Act 1955, "no person, who is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the central government may, by notification in the official gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an OCI card holder".
The government's stand was opposed by Qureshi's lawyers who contended that the provision was not applicable to her.
After hearing both sides, the court said the principal controversy in the case related to the interpretation of provision -- section 7A of the Citizenship Act -- which requires consideration.
"However, this court is prima facie of the view that in the meanwhile, the respondents (ministries and FRRO) be restrained from revoking the petitioner's PIO/OCI card till the next date of hearing, as it is not disputed that the petitioner (Pernia Qureshi) was a citizen of India for 12 years prior to being provided the PIO card," the court said in its order.
Pernia Qureshi, a US citizen, has contended in her plea that she had applied for an OCI card in 2017 after the Indian government in January 2015 issued the notification stating that all existing PIO card holders shall be deemed to OCI card holders.
She has said in the petition that she was a PIO card holder since 2008 and that it was valid till 2023.
However, when she came to India this year, immigration officers advised her to get an OCI card before March 31, 2019 as she would not be allowed to enter the country on the basis of her PIO card.
After that, the petition said, she sent an e-mail to FRRO but did not receive any response.