CHENNAI: The Madras High Court set aside the order of December 14 by the Nilgiris Collector directing a family of Indian origin holding US passport to leave the country in a week.
Justice K Kalyanasundaram set aside the Collector’s order at a special sitting at his residence on Thursday, a holiday.
The judge directed that the District Collector must pass an appropriate order, in accordance with law, after giving a personal hearing to the petitioner as quickly as possible and asked the petitioner to co-operate with the enquiry. He also made it clear that if any adverse order was passed, it should not be effected for two weeks.
The petitioner, Gregory Omar Malstead, claimed he was a person of Indian origin holding a US passport. His wife Rebecca Ann Malstead and two children Morgan Roger David Malstead and Abigail Mala Malstead were overseas citizens of India (OCI) holding US Passports. They had been staying in India since 2000 and were residents of Udhagamandalam since March 2005.
While so, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division’s notification of January 9, 2015 says that all existing PIO card holders shall be deemed to be overseas citizens of India. The petitioner contended that he had been granted the privilege to carry on his lawful activity in India.
When he approached the Mumbai High Court, challenging the above direction, the court held he should be given a personal hearing before passing any order.
To continue his efforts in fighting issues of exploitation of women and children in 2013, he had taken up a job as national director of the Freedom Firm, having registered office at Udhagamandalam and a registered trust associated with the Freedom Firm, US which was a non-profit body incorporated in the US.
He got the impugned order from the Nilgiris Collector on December 14 to leave the country within seven days.