Sri Lankan living in India for over 30 years loses citizenship claim

The citizenship claim of a 45-year-old Sri Lankan woman, who has been staying in India for more than 30 years, married an Indian citizen and has a valid Aadhaar card, was rejected by the Madras high court, which said she had not made any application to the competent authority for conferment of her status as an Indian citizen so far, the Times of India reported.

As a result, Sayanthi would be deported to Sri Lanka, leaving behind her husband, and three children, including the petitioner – P Divya.

On June 22, Sayanthi arrived from Milan, Italy (where she was working as a waiter in a hotel). As soon as she landed in the Chennai airport, she approached the immigration authorities for an arrival clearance.

Authorities found that she had fraudulently obtained an Indian passport and that she had previously held a Sri Lankan passport, which was expired on October 11, 1994.

Since she wantonly suppressed the facts, she was denied entry into India and was sent to Sri Lanka on June 23. But since she falsely claimed to be an Indian, the Lankan authorities sent her back to India the same day. Once again, on June 24 she was sent back to Sri Lanka by Indian authorities.

However, the Sri Lankan immigration authority did not grant arrival clearance to Sayanthi and requested the Indian immigration to send her back on the strength of a valid emergency travel document issued by the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

Accordingly, the Sri Lankan deputy high commission was informed to issue an emergency travel document to facilitate her return to Sri Lanka. Thereafter, on June 24, an order was issued by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer, Chennai restricting her movement under the Foreigners Act, 1946.

Assailing the move, Sayanthi’s daughter Divya approached the high court seeking direction to the authorities to relieve her mother from detention and allow her to travel to Italy to work.

Refusing her claim, Justice T Raja said, “The claim of the petitioner that by virtue of Section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, her mother has to be treated an Indian, is far from acceptance. The reason being, although she has produced Aadhaar card, driving license, voter identity card and the marriage registration certificate of her mother, she has not made any application before the competent authority seeking conferment of her status as an Indian citizen. Above all, since Sri Lankan government has admitted the status of her mother as Sri Lankan and also issued a passport inviting her to return to their country, the writ petition fails.” (Colombo Gazette)

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