Citing national security, the Bombay High Court today pulled up the Union and Maharashtra governments for allowing a man from PoK, who claimed to have accidentally crossed into India 17 years ago, to stay on in the country for so long.
"You have registered case against the petitioner in 2009.
We are now in 2012. Trial is still pending. So you (government) have given him (petitioner) licence to stay here," a division bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and A R Joshi said while hearing a petition filed by Siraj Khan seeking his deportation.
"This is a matter having ramifications on national security. What is the state government's policy? How do you propose to handle this situation?" Justice A M Khanwilkar asked.
According to Khan, who claims to be a native of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he had entered Indian territory in 1995 when he was nine-year-old. He has petitioned the court to direct the government to send him back to PoK.
The bench was today informed by the lawyer appearing for the Union government that the state government has not yet forwarded Khan's proposal for deportation to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
"Someone enters the country illegally and you let him stay here? The petitioner has married and already has children. You (government) have let him establish his next generation here," the court said and suggested making offences under the Passport Act non-bailable.
"In this case the petitioner got bail and is now mingling with citizens of this country," the court said.
Directing the Advocate General to appear in the matter, the court asked the concerned department to brief the the state's top law officer regarding the government's policy in such matters.
The matter was adjourned for resumed hearing on August 6.
At the last hearing, the High Court had asked the Centre to file a reply to Siraj Khan's petition seeking a direction to government to send him back to PoK.
The Centre had asked for a month's time to file a reply but the court allowed only a week, saying the petitioner had called for urgency as his parents were aged and ill.
Khan, who claims to have accidentally crossed Attari border in 1995, has said he was not getting a suitable job here and the only way to live with dignity and pride was to return home in PoK.
According to Khan's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi, the petitioner was born in 1985 at Manshera in PoK. As his parents insisted on his going to school every day, he got fed up and decided to run away. One day he bunked school and caught a train which brought him to Attari border where he saw people cross the barbed wire fence. He too joined them and landed in India.
The petition claims that Khan reached Delhi in December, 1995. After a few days he went to Varanasi where he worked as a waiter in a restaurant before reaching Mumbai.
However, in 1998, when he tried to return to PoK, he was caught by a railway ticket examiner in Ahmedabad who handed him over to police. Khan then spent a year at a juvenile home in Gujarat from where he was released in 1999.
Thereafter he came back to Mumbai and got a job with a catering company. Once again he attempted to go to PoK through Wagah border but the authorities denied him entry and threatened to put him behind bars, Khan has said in the petition.
Khan returned to Mumbai where he met Sajida and they married. The couple has three kids and stay in Wadala.
Khan said he approached Maharashtra CID in 2009 to seek their help in going back to PoK but was arrested under Passport Act and Foreign Citizen Act. He was later enlarged on bail.