Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

French Restaurateur Challenges Rule on OCI Status in Court

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A French restaurateur who came to India eight years ago has approached the court to challenge a provision in the Indian citizenship law under which he can lose his Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status if he gets divorced from his Indian wife. The Delhi High Court on Aug. 10 sought a response from the Indian government over the plea filed by Jerome Nicholas Georges Cousin, who fears that he would have to move back to France on account of his divorce.

Cousin has been married to an Indian woman for the last six years. In his petition, he claims that his wife is blackmailing him for a hefty sum or a share in his business, threatening him with divorce if her demands are not met, PTI reported.

A High Court Bench of Chief Justice Ravindra Menon and Justice C. Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and sought its response over the matter, according to the report.

The petitioner has also accused his wife of threatening him with a false rape case or any other such offense if he does not meet her demands, the Hindu reported.

The restaurateur got married to the Indian woman in Manipur in 2012 and was granted the OCI status in 2013. He  said that the couple led a happy married life until a few months back.

The petition will be heard by the court on Nov.14.

Cousin is challenging Section 7D(f) of the Citizenship Act of 1955, which says, “Any Overseas Citizen of India who divorces his/her spouse will lose their OCI status and will have to return to the country of origin.”

In another case involving residence permission to a foreigner married to an Indian, a British sitar player was recently asked to leave India since he was overstaying in the country since 2010.

Felix Stefan Kaye, who has been married to an Indian woman since 2009, failed to get his marriage registered as his visa expired. Kaye was convicted for overstaying his visa in 2011 and jailed for three weeks. He was again convicted in 2016 for overstaying and sentenced to six months in jail, followed by deportation, against which he appealed in court. The Delhi High Court reduced his sentence but the order to deport him remained unchanged.

Kaye appealed against the deportation order and was granted a single stay until March 2018 for the birth of his child.

The courts also asked the FRRO to consider Kaye’s application for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status with a “sympathetic” view. The FRRO passed an order on July 18, which stated, “Instead of taking Exit Permit from FRRO and going back to your country, you misused the overstay by engaging yourself in business activities by forming a private band, The Ska Vengers, in violation of visa norms, and did not fulfill the statutory compliances, like tax towards government of India.”

According to Kaye, the marriage registration certificate was not granted to him for many years, Firstpost reported. “I am living here without a visa because the government did not give me a visa,” he told the publication. He added that he was not permitted to work either, due to which he could not pay the due taxes. Kaye and his family have no plan of leaving the country, the publication reported.

The musician also tweeted to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, to consider his case.