How I converted one-month visas to Pakistanis to 5-year visas

Justice Markandey Katju
Justice Markandey Katju

 

It is difficult for Pakistanis to get visas to visit India, and even when granted are of very short duration, usually for one month or 45 days.

Even medical visas are often denied, as happened recently to a young Pakistani, Aleem Haider Junejo who needed an urgent lung transplant to save his life, a facility not available in Pakistan, and relatively cheap in India but exorbitantly expensive elsewhere. His wife Maria Abdullah somehow raised the money and a Chennai hospital agreed to perform the surgery, but the Indian government refused the visa. I thought this was heartless.

When I was a Judge in the Allahabad High Court many petitions were filed before me by Pakistanis who had come to India on a one-month visa but did not go back to Pakistan on expiry of the period of the visa, and were served deportation orders. They challenged such orders, and several such cases came before me.

In all such cases I admitted the petition and stayed the deportation order ” until further orders “. This in substance meant that by my order I had converted a one month visa to a 5 year visa, because once a stay order is granted the case will thereafter in all probability be listed after 5 years, in view of the heavy pendency of about 10 lac (one million cases in the Allahabad High Court), and the stay order would continue in the meantime.

Why did I do this? I obviously could not say so in my order, but the real reason was this:
These Pakistanis who came to India were mostly old people who were mohajirs. They had migrated from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, etc in their youth, either out of fear that being Muslims it was not safe to live in India after partition, or because of religious emotions that induced them to go to a ‘Dar ul Islam’ rather than remain in a ‘Dar ul Harb’.

Now that they were old they wanted to return to the land of their birth, where many of their relatives were still living in places like Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur etc. Having got a short-term visa, they did not want to go back to Pakistan, and overstayed. Consequently, they were served with deportation orders, which they challenged in the Allahabad High Court, and such cases often came before me.

As I have often said, I regard India and Pakistan as one country, I regard Pakistan a fake and artificial entity, I regard Partition of 1947 as a historical British swindle which I will never accept, whether others accept it or not, and I regard the two-nation theory, which was the basis of Partition, as bogus.

So I regard all Pakistanis as Indians. When a Pakistani comes to India, according to me it is really an Indian travelling from one part of India to another. So how can an Indian be deported from India?

It was this philosophy of mine which was the real reason for passing such orders.

 

[Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are his own]

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