The Centre told the Delhi high court on Friday that American journalist Angad Singh has been blacklisted despite being an OCI cardholder for misrepresenting facts in his application for obtaining a journalistic visa and violating certain norms.
Photograph: Angad Singh on Twitter
Justice Prathiba M Singh granted time to the Centre's counsel to obtain instructions and file an affidavit confirming whether any proceedings have commenced against Angad Singh, who produces documentaries for Vice News with a focus on Asia, for cancellation of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.
The high court also asked the Centre's counsel to inform whether any show cause notice was issued to the petitioner.
The high court was hearing the journalist's plea against the central government's refusal to permit his entry into India. He was deported from Delhi to New York in August last year.
”Let the above instructions be placed before the court by way of an affidavit within two weeks,” the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on February 28.
The Centre submitted Singh had depicted India in a "negative manner" in the India Burning documentary.
Advocate Swathi Sukumar, appearing for the journalist, submitted that under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, OCI card holders have all the rights as recognised by the Constitution of India except for certain rights as mentioned under section 7B (2).
The lawyer also submitted under section 7D of the Act, OCI cards cannot be cancelled and no order for cancellation shall be passed unless the cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
The counsel said Angad Singh's OCI card is still valid and that according to the counter affidavit filed by Centre, although he has been blacklisted his OCI card has not been cancelled yet.
As per the Centre, an affidavit has been filed by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) stating the petitioner is a ’blacklist subject' and was blacklisted at the instance of the Consulate General of India in New York.
The affidavit claimed the petitioner had misrepresented facts in the application for obtaining a journalistic visa in 2020.
During the hearing, the central government standing counsel, Anurag Ahluwalia, relied upon the provisions of the Foreigners Act and the Foreigners Order to argue that under section 11 (A) of the Foreigners Order, 1948 no foreigner can produce any picture, film or documentary for public exhibition without permission in writing from the Union government.
He said this provision has been violated by the petitioner resulting in his blacklisting despite being an OCI cardholder.
In the petition, the journalist has challenged the action of refusing him entry into India as illegal and violative of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
He also challenged the refusal to grant him a ’special permit' further to his application made on September 22, 2021.
Singh submitted he holds an OCI card which was issued to him initially in March 2007 and which was renewed in August 2018.
He said he had applied for permission to shoot a documentary in India in January 2020 for Republic Day celebration and other events, and was issued a permit. However, since he could not visit immediately, he applied for a second permission which was granted to him on January 30, 2021.
In 2021, he again applied for a special permit to cover some event and interviews but the application was rejected. In respect of his application regarding the rejection, he received no response.
Thereafter, he applied for shooting a food show in September 2021 but was not granted permission.
The plea said in August last year, he wanted to travel to India on a personal visit as he has roots in the country and also has relatives here. However, he was not permitted to enter India on arrival and was deported.