Indian Court Directs Govt to Pay After NRI Couple is Detained Over Mistaken Identity

The home ministry's appeal to waive off the amount was dismissed by the high court.


After a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) couple was detained three times at two Indian airports, the Delhi High Court ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that they are not detained anymore until the competent authority gives definite instructions to do so. The Dubai-based NRI couple are namesakes of another couple against whom look-out circulars (LoCs) have been issued, PTI reported.

The NRI couple then approached the high court, which admonished the ministry for causing harassment to them, and slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 on it, according to the report.

The ministry, however, moved an application before Justice Rajiv Shakdher so the amount could be waived off. It claimed that it had corrected the LoC records. The judge, however, refused to waive the amount. The ministry then filed an appeal before a Division Bench of the high court, which dismissed the plea on May 2, the PTI report said.

“If the State is not willing to pay the cost of Rs 20,000, we will then ask uncomfortable questions. Tell us how much have you spent on this appeal? This is why our authorities behave so arrogantly, because they are not held accountable,” justices S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla said.

The ministry on its part said that the reason behind the couple’s detention was that the names were similar. The court did not accept the MHA’s arguments, saying, “One thing is lacking. You did not scrutinize the passport.”

The couple in their plea claimed that the LoC was issued in July 2016 and the first time they were detained was on Nov. 19, 2017, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The mix-up over mistaken identity was solved after a few hours. The couple then sent a legal notice to the ministry, but the ministry did not reply, the couple claimed in their petition, filed through advocate Deepkaran Dalal. After that the couple was detained twice again — once at the IGI Airport, and then at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

The court order said that the ministry and the immigration bureau should have verified the identity of the persons against whom LoCs are issued. “In this, the respondents ought to have collected all the identity documents of the accused before taking out the LoCs. Most times, photographs may suffice. In some cases, such as in the case of identical twins, birthmarks etc. may have to be noted,” the court said.

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