The Madras High Court provided relief to an Indian born in Singapore over three decades ago who has remained a stateless individual for over 20 years, directing the Central government to grant him a special resident permit within three months.
Philip Mammen Kozhy can hope to become an Indian citizen as well after the court has directed the Union Home Ministry to also consider granting citizenship under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 as a special case by relaxing procedural requirements.
“In spite of all action that was initiated at some level, unfortunately, the claim of the petitioner for citizenship has not been either rejected or considered favourably. Somewhere the procedure for grant of such citizenship has blocked the efforts of the administration to take the claim of the petitioner to its logical end. The petitioner, who is living in this country for as many as 32 years as of now, cannot be made to suffer statelessness despite being of Indian descent and his father being an Indian national and citizen of this country,” Justice V Parthiban said in his judgment.
The judge was allowing a writ petition from Kozhy, who prayed for a direction to the Union Home Ministry to regularise his stay in India and to the Immigration Officer in Chennai to grant him long-term visa/resident permit.
The judge said that unfortunately, the claim of the petitioner has been caught up in procedural wrangles and rigmarole, resulting in an abject negation of right of the petitioner to be a citizen of this country. If a person, who is admittedly of Indian descent and whose Singapore passport had already been revoked in 1997/1998, cannot be reduced to the level of a refugee in his own country and cannot remain a stateless person having no rights whatsoever for his lifetime.
Despite his stay in India for over three decades, the petitioner’s status has not been defined or regularised and if his stay is not regularised in India, where can he go without any passport, the judge said.
Kozhy, who migrated to India from Singapore when he was three months old in 1986, had been struggling to get Indian citizenship since then.