'Paranoid over-reaction': Calcutta HC quashes 'Leave India' notice to Polish student

'Paranoid over-reaction': Calcutta HC quashes 'Leave India' notice to Polish student

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday set aside a 'Leave India' notice issued to a Polish student by the Centre for allegedly participating in an anti-CAA rally here, terming it a "paranoid over-reaction".

Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya directed the central government not to give effect to the notice served on the Poland citizen, who studies at the Jadavpur University here.

Kamil Siedczynski, the student from Poland who is enrolled for a Masters' degree in the Department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, was served the notice dated February 14 from the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO), Kolkata.

In his petition before the high court, the student prayed for a restraining order on the authorities from giving effect to the notice, which asked him to leave India within 14 days of receiving it, and from deporting him.

Since he received the notice on February 24, he was required to leave the country by March 9. However, the court had on March 5 stayed the notice.

Passing the order, the court observed that no justified grounds for expulsion of the petitioner from Indian soil have been made by the Union government.

Justice Bhattacharyya observed that the basic and fundamental rights of a foreigner, associated with life and personal liberty, is vested in all persons living in India, citizen or foreigner, not only by virtue of Article 21 of the Constitution but also go along with a healthy human existence, which is the birth-right of any human being, including the petitioner.

The court held that the order of expulsion is devoid of any reason, observing that the petitioner ought to have been given a right of hearing prior to curtailing his valuable rights, accrued by dint of his visa issued and renewed subsequently by the central government itself.

In the present case, a 'hearing' was alleged to have been given to the petitioner after his expulsion order was issued, which makes such 'hearing' merely a lip-service and an eye-wash, the court said, while noting that no reasons were attributed in the order of expulsion.

"The order of expulsion thus appears to be a paranoid over-reaction, contrary to the rights enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution," the court observed.

In the notice issued by the FRRO here, Siedczynski is alleged to have engaged in anti-government activities and thus committed visa violation, which the student denied.

The Polish student's lawyer Jayanta Mitra had claimed before the court of Justice Bhattacharyya that the order, which was communicated to the student on February 24 when he went to the FRRO on being asked to, was arbitrary and contrary to principles of natural justice and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all persons under the Constitution of India.

The senior lawyer had submitted that the petitioner was neither afforded a reasonable opportunity of being heard nor was he formally informed of the specific charges against him prior to the issue of the notice.

He said that it is not in consonance with India's obligations and is in derogation from the principles enunciated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (1966), which are applicable to all persons.

Siedczynski, who hails from Szczecin in Poland, has been studying in India since 2016 and has already obtained post-graduate diploma in Sanskrit from the Visva-Bharati university on scholarship before enrolling for the course at Jadavpur University, where he is in the final semester and his examinations are scheduled to be completed by August 2020, according to his lawyer.

Recently, Afsara Anika Meem, a first-year Bangladeshi undergraduate student in the Fine Arts department of the Visva-Bharati University, was also served an FRRO notice for reportedly engaging in "anti-government" activities.

Last year, Jakob Lindenthal, a German IIT Madras student, had to fly back home after the Bureau of Immigration asked him to leave the country for participating in anti-CAA demonstrations in Tamil Nadu.

Jakob was attached to the Physics Department of the IIT Madras and he left the country in December. Jakob, who had also taken part in a protest at the institute's Gajendra Circle against the amendment to the Citizenship Act, was a student of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. He was in Chennai on an exchange programme.

Similarly, a Norwegian national, Janne-Mette Johansson, who participated in the protest march against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Kerala's Kochi on December 23, also had to leave India following FRRO's directives.

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