The Bombay High Court yesterday rejected the petition of a man claiming to be from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Siraj Khan, who had wanted the government to “deport” him to his homeland as he was unable to return on his own.
Expedition of trial
The court also directed Khan’s trial be conducted expeditiously, given the “peculiar circumstances” of the case. Khan, who lives in Wadala, was booked for violations under various sections of the Foreigner’s Act and the Passport Act.
In addition to expediting the trial and directing it be completed within six months, the division bench of Justices A S Oka and S S Jadhav ordered that should Khan choose to apply for discharge from the case, the trial court should decide the application within two months.
On the question whether Khan was entitled to travel out of the country, the court ruled that he would have to approach the trial court for permission.
The court also noted that apart from Khan and his wife’s affidavits, there was no material on record to substantiate his claim of being a Pakistani. The court has now directed the statutory authorities to “adjudicate upon facts” necessary to determine Khan’s citizenship.
“The lower court must complete the trial in any case within six months. All statutory remedies available to the petitioner are expressly kept open,” the court declared while rejecting Khan’s petition.
After the order was dictated, Khan’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi requested the court to allow him to withdraw the petition, but the request was rejected.
According to Naqvi, Khan 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. Khan caught a train, which brought him to the Attari border, where he saw people crossing the barbed wire fence. He 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 coming to the city.
The petition states that in 1998, when he tried to return to PoK, he was caught in Ahmedabad by a railway ticket examiner, who handed him over to the police. It says Khan then spent a year at a juvenile home in Gujarat, and was released in 1999.
Advocate General Darius Khambata yesterday informed the court that no such record of any case was available with the Gujarat Government, and therefore Khan’s stand that he was being tried for the same offence twice was untenable. Eventually, Khan had landed in the city and got a job with a catering company. Khan’s petition said that once again he attempted to go to PoK through the Wagah border but the authorities denied him entry and threatened to put him behind bars.
Khan said he approached the state CID in 2009 to seek its help in going back to PoK but was arrested under the Passport Act and the Foreign Citizen Act. He was later enlarged on bail.
He then petitioned the court to direct the government to deport him back to PoK as he was unable to get a job in India.