The Delhi High Court has said that the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) cannot insist on the physical or virtual presence of both the spouses for processing Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card applications for one of them.
The high court’s order came while asking FRRO to accept the OCI card application of an Iranian woman, who has been living separately in Bengaluru after her relationship with her husband, an Indian citizen, turned sour.
The woman, in her plea, said their marriage was solemnised in Dubai, U.A.E, in May 2009. Shortly after they consummated the marriage, she relocated to Bengaluru at her husband’s insistence.
However, as their relationship soured, the woman said her husband left her in Bengaluru, to reside with his family in Goa.
On November 14, 2020, the woman generated her application for an OCI card on the basis of her marriage, and went to submit it to the local FRRO in Bengaluru. However, the officials refused to accept the form stating that the presence of her husband was requisite for processing her application.
‘Marriage is proof’
The woman submitted that once her marriage with an Indian citizen since 2009 has been proved and is an undisputed fact, the same should be enough to merit grant of an OCI card in her name.
On the other hand, the Centre’s counsel argued that unless her spouse comes forward at the time of making the OCI card application, the FRRO cannot even consider the same. The counsel sought to rely on a checklist prescribed by the FRRO for submission of the OCI card application.
Justice Palli, however, pointed out that the provision in the Visa Manual “merely makes it requisite for all OCI applicants to be present for a personal interview, either physically or through video conferencing”.
“…Given that there is no rule or guideline which mandates the presence of both the spouses at the time of making application for an OCI card, it is surprising that the Checklist was formulated in a manner to impose such a condition,” Justice Palli observed.
“Thus, the very imposition of such a requirement on OCI card applicants, being unsupported by any Rule/Formal Guideline, cannot be permitted to operate,” Justice Palli said while directing the FRRO to process the woman’s OCI card application in accordance with law within a period of six weeks.