KOLKATA: Polish student Kamil Siedcynski will not have to leave India, at least for the moment. The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday set aside the ‘leave-India’ notice issued to Siedcynski by the Foreign Residents’ Registration Office (FRRO) for being present in an anti-CAA rally with other students of Jadavpur University on December 19.
Siedcynski had moved the court against this order, stating that his version was not heard by the FRRO and that the Constitution grants him certain rights.
The Union of India had contended that the Constitution doesn’t grant rights to protest against the government to foreigners and submitted a confidential report stating how the Polish student had participated in other anti-government protests.
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, after hearing both sides, dismissed the confidential report for not containing any valid ground for expulsion of the student from India. The court also held that some Articles of the Constitution do not discriminate between Indians and foreigners residing in the country legally. “In a democratic country like India, the rights of any authority cannot be totally arbitrary and unrestricted. The fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution govern not only Indian citizens but foreigners as well, so long as they are on Indian soil,” the court observed.
According to Justice Bhattacharyya, all submissions made by the government regarding its sole right to decide on such issues pertain to illegal immigrants or foreigners whose visas have expired. He observed that this right cannot be used against somebody whom the government has not only issued a visa but also renewed it subsequently.
“The visa confers valuable rights on the petitioner, not merely to stay in India but also associated rights, which are assured by the Constitution to both citizens and foreigners…..For a brilliant student of the academic standard of the petitioner, it is but natural that he shall have free interactions in an atmosphere of freedom with Indians, at least while in India. Such liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution….are basic rights inherent in human existence,” the court said.
The contention by the government that Siedcynski was heard at the FRRO was also shot down by Justice Bhattacharyya. The right of hearing was granted after issuance of the ‘Leave India’ notice, which makes it a mere ‘lip-service and eye-wash’, he observed.