Karnataka High Court’s directive to student who came to India on tourist visa and completed MBBS as ‘Indian citizen’

The court says she has to pay NRI quota fees if she wants to go back to the USA, or face penal action for violating law

March 18, 2023 09:29 pm | Updated March 20, 2023 03:04 pm IST - Bengaluru

The High Court of Karnataka has directed a 26-year-old medical graduate, who had completed MBBS degree under government quota by falsely declaring herself as an Indian citizen though she is a citizen of the U.S. by birth, to pay the fees prescribed for NRI quota seat if she wants get exit permit to go back to the U.S., or face penal action.

Stating that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is well within its power to initiate any proceedings against Bhanu C. Ramachandran, petitioner, for violating provisions of the Citizenship Act and the Foreigners Act, the court said it was showing leniency in allowing her to go back to the U.S. if she pays the NRI quota fees for all the five years.

The leniency is because “she was a student and probably was not aware of consequences of law or the breach of law and falsehood”, the court said.

‘Snatched away’

However, the court observed: “The petitioner had snatched away the chance of a genuine Indian student from getting a seat for MBBS course under the government quota. If she is let off the hook without any condition, it would be putting a premium on the misrepresentation that she has made throughout calling herself to be an ‘Indian citizen’.”

“She now wants to pursue higher education and settle down in the U.S. based on the basic qualification she acquired in this country based on falsehood,” the court noted.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order on the petition filed by Ms. Bhanu questioning the decision of immigration authorities rejecting her application for grant of exit permit to return to the U.S. to pursue her career.

The court directed the MHA to issue the exit permit if she pays the NRI quota fees for all the five years of her MBBS course and submits a no-objection certificate from the State authorities for having paid such fees. However, the court gave liberty to the MHA to initiate penal action against her as per law if she fails to pay such a fee.


The petitioner was born to an Indian couple in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., in February 1997. Her mother, who is an Indian citizen, brought the petitioner to India in 2003 on a tourist visa following marital discord with her husband. The petitioner was six-years-old when she entered India on the tourist visa valid for only six months, and never returned.

She completed her schooling and PU education as an “Indian citizen” and declared herself as an “Indian citizen” even while applying for medical seat through Common Entrance Test (CET) in 2015. She had completed 18 years when she wrote CET in 2015 and secured 571st rank, and was allotted a seat for MBBS course in Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences.

Renews passport

After completing MBBS course in 2020, she applied for a renewal of her passport before the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, on the ground that she had not renounced her citizenship or nationality of the U.S. before completion of six months after attaining majority as per the law. Accepting her application, the U.S. Consulate General issued a passport to her in March, 2021, for a period of one year asking her to get regular passport in the U.S.

After receiving the U.S. passport, she applied with the Bureau of Immigration (BoI), New Delhi, seeking exit permit. The BOI, which found that she had also secured Aadhaar, PAN, and driving licence claiming to be an “Indian citizen”, refused exit permit. BoI also communicated to the State authorities about false declarations made by her and instructed imposition of NRI/Foreign national quota fee on her. She had approached the High Court in 2021 on denial of exit permit.

The court refused to accept her claim that she has attained Indian citizenship by descent as she had not renounced the citizenship of the U.S. within six months on attaining majority.

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