Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday set aside an FIR registered under the Foreigners Act against two Pakistan nationals who have been in the State for medical treatment. The FIR was filed by the police when the two visitors approached the police for police clearance certificate (PCC).
In his order, Justice K Haripal allowed the writ petition of the Pakistan nationals, saying that by no stretch of imagination was there any reason to file a case against the petitioners.
"In no stretch of imagination, the act of the respondents in registering a crime against the petitioners can be justified...In my view, in fact, such an act of the second respondent has only brought ignominy to our system. The petitioners have taken extra care to follow the procedural formalities."
The two Pakistan nationals had arrived in Kochi for treatment, one for cervical spinal cord injuries, and the hospital concerned, AAMRI Rehab International, Ernakulam was the third petitioner. The petitioner obtained a three months Medical visa from Indian Embassy in Oman, and arrived in Kerala with a medical attendant. The arrival was duly reported to Special Branch by the hospital within 24 hours.
After discharge from the hospital following the treatment, they were set to fly to Chennai the next day and then to leave via Sharjah. At Chennai they were not allowed to depart for want of a PCC which brought them to Kochi again. At this point, instead of issuing the same, the police booked them under the Foreigners Act for failure to apply for PCC prior to departure from Kochi.
The petitioners alleged that this was a clear abuse of the process of law, and approached the High Court for relief.
After reviewing the documents, the court agreed with the petitioners and pointed out that the genuineness of the documents was not questioned. The bench found that the Public Prosecutor could not make a valid case for the FIR.
The Court added: "It is expected that when foreign nationals are involved, responsible officials would exhibit a little more sensibility and act cautiously. An exception has to be taken for registering a crime at the drop of a hat. Here absolutely no reason is made out for initiating criminal prosecution against the petitioners who had reached India with valid travel documents; their arrival was duly intimated to the Special Branch and the officials of the Special Branch were monitoring them."
"I do not have the slightest doubt in my mind that Ext.P17 (FIR registered against the petitioners) is clearly an abuse of the process of law."
The Court noted that the first petitioner had been suffering from serious illness and was in an immobile condition. Such a person couldn't be expected to report to the police station physically and therefore could not be penalised for the only failure failure to make a written request for PCC prior to departure from Kochi.
The court also observed that the authorities do not allege any violation of the visa stipulations, residential permits or any threat to national security. The court's observations amounted to blaming the prosecution of inadequate application of mind.
The bench remarked "I have no hesitation in holding that all the proceedings pursuant to Ext.P17 are illegal and therefore, proceedings initiated pursuant to the [FIR] are hereby quashed."
The court directed the City Police Commissioner to issue a PCC , as per law, to the petitioners within three days.
(With inputs from LiveLaw)