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MHA says 34 lakh OCI cards issued, declines to detail cancellations

Front page of OCI Registration Certificate

Front page of OCI Registration Certificate   | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The OCI scheme has been operational since December 2, 2005.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that more than 34 lakh Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registrations had been done but declined to divulge information relating to the number of persons whose OCI cards had been cancelled, citing non availability in a “consolidated form.”

Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by The Hindu, the ministry said that the information sought remained outside the “mandate and scope of the RTI Act, 2005.”

On November 7, in an unprecedented move, the ministry had announced on Twitter that it would revoke the OCI card to author and journalist Aatish Taseer over what it claimed was his attempt to “conceal information” that his father, Salman Taseer, was of Pakistani origin.

The ministry had at the time said that Mr. Taseer had failed to dispute a notice that had given him the opportunity to submit his reply/objections regarding his PIO/OCI cards. Asserting that Mr. Taseer had not complied with basic requirements and withheld information, the ministry had ruled that he had become “ineligible to hold an OCI card as per the Citizenship Act, 1955”.

In his reply on September 6 to an August 13 notice, and a subsequent notice dated September 3, Mr. Taseer had explained that his parents had never been legally married, and that his mother was his sole legal guardian.

Mr. Taseer was criticised by several members of the ruling BJP, as he had authored an essay in May 2019 for Time magazine that accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of following divisive policies.

In reply to the RTI on the number of OCI cards issued from January 1, 2000, to November 26, 2019, the ministry said, “As per data available, 34,21,337 OCI registration/OCI card have been issued.”

To subsequent questions seeking year-wise data on the number of OCI cards issued or cancelled, the ministry said, “Information related to year-wise issuance of OCI registration or year-wise cancellation of grant of registration as OCI cardholder is not available in consolidated form. It may please be noted that the contents of these paras remain outside the mandate and scope of the RTI Act, 2005.”

While responding to another question on major reasons for cancelling the OCI cards, the ministry replied, “Information sought is not available,” however, it “could be cancelled on grounds mentioned in section 7(D) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which is available in the public domain.”

Section 7(D) says that the OCI registration may be cancelled if it was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact; or if the overseas citizen of India has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India, or unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy (in case of a war) or has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years within five years after registration as an OCI, or if it is necessary so to do in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

The OCI scheme has been operational since December 2, 2005. It provides facilities like lifelong visa, exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and parity with non-resident Indians (NRIs) in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural properties. No parity is allowed in the sphere of political and public employment rights.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 8:32:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mha-says-34-lakh-oci-cards-issued-declines-to-detail-cancellations/article30544088.ece

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