Bengaluru

1,165 foreigners overstaying in city

Of the nearly 30,000 registered foreigners in the State, as on January 1, 2016, Bengaluru alone has 1,165 of them who are overstaying, the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) told the High Court on Thursday.

Interestingly, only 104 cases of visa overstay were registered during the past year, with 83 cases in 2014 and 21 cases in 2015 in the city, according to the data that was submitted by the city police.

Justice A.V. Chandrashekara had sought the details about the number of foreigners overstaying their visa in the city while hearing petitions, filed by some foreign nationals (mainly Nigerian nationals) who were booked for violation of Foreigners Act, seeking release on bail.

Krishna S. Dixit, Assistant Solicitor General of India, told the Court that the less number of criminal cases booked against foreign nationals for overstaying, in a way, showed that “India is soft on registering criminal cases against foreigners who were initially allowed into the country through a valid visa.”

Mr. Dixit said the Court was required to analyse whether trial court’s orders of granting bail to foreigners in overstaying cases amount to “legalising the illegal stay of such foreigners” beyond visa period as it is a serious violation of the law attracting a maximum punishment up to five years with heavy penalty.

Meanwhile, State Public Prosecutor P.M. Nawaz told the Court that around 104 cases were booked against foreign nationals for overstaying and the trial courts have refused to grant bails to them mainly in such cases where they were also booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

‘Meagre punishment’

Additional Advocate General A.S. Ponnanna said that granting bail to overstaying foreigners may not “legalise their overstay” but he has contended that a meagre punishment like imprisonment for “one day” and “three days” imposed by the trial courts when foreigners “plead guilty” of overstaying, would fail to deter other foreign nationals from overstaying.

He said many of the overstaying foreign nationals, against whom no cases are booked, might be indulging in illegal activities.

Not seized

Meanwhile, the Court found that the police have “failed” to seize passport from foreign nationals accused of overstaying while asking the State to expedite the process of setting up a foreigners detention centre, which is already in pipeline.

The Court orally observed that there should be a system in place to hear the grievances of foreign nationals and to ensure their safety and also deal with complaints against them.

The Court has reserved its verdict on grant of bail to the petitioners and issues related to overstaying of foreigners.

Ends/kp


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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 7:52:43 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/1165-foreigners-overstaying-in-city/article8225671.ece