Saturday, 22 May 2010

Opposition to Retroactive Rules regarding Compulsory Surrender of Indian Passport for all who have become citizens of other countries

If you are of Indian origin, may I encourage you to sign the following on-line petition, which I have signed.

The petition draws attention to yet another scandalous method which our Government has produced to harass people who once held Indian citizenship.

This particularly affects all such people who wish to avail of consular services (including issue of visas, and in theory even simple enquiries for information!)

The petition has been drawn up by my friend, Ashook Ramsaran, who has just been given yet another Award in recognition for his services to the community.

The TEXT of the petition is provided immediately below, and the petition itself is ONLINE AT:


Opposition to Retroactive Enforcement of New Rules for Surrender of Indian Passport

Hon. Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of INDIA
New Delhi

Subject: Opposition to Retroactive Enforcement of New Rules for Surrender of Indian Passport

Hon. Prime Minister:

I strongly object to the retroactive enforcement of new rules regarding the surrender of Indian passport upon acquisition of citizenship of other countries. The new rules impose undue and unnecessary burden on Persons of Indian Origin. In addition, I object to the prescribed fee as being unreasonably high.

The notice posted on the website of several Indian embassies and consulates stipulates that Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired citizenship of other countries are required to surrender their Indian passports to the nearest Indian Consulate within 90 days of their acquisition of citizenship of those other countries. I have no objection if the enforcement of the new rules takes effect from the date of issue. But retroactive enforcement and requiring people of Indian origin who got citizenship of other countries years ago, could cause unimaginable hardship in thousands of cases. The minimum service fee of $175 for the surrender certificate is also unduly very high.

There can be a few millions of people who have obtained citizenship of other countries over the last fifty years, since the passage of Indian Citizenship Act 1955 – the law quoted in asking for surrender certificate. Many of the former Indian citizens have been travelling to India on passports of countries of their adoption but with Indian visas granted by the same consulates whose websites now have posting of new rules. If the law did exist in the past, Indian embassies and consulates everywhere should have asked for the surrender of Indian passports before first time granting Indian visas to Persons of Indian Origin. Requiring Persons of Indian Origin to surrender their Indian passports after the lapse of many years of acquisition of such citizenship, would cause undue hardship and delay in getting consular services. In case an applicant has lost, damaged or surrendered his/her Indian passport to a foreign Government, he/she is required to furnish certified copies of following documents, as per notice on website postings of Indian embassies and consulates:

1. Details of last held Indian passport (Passport No., Date of Issue & Place of issue). The onus of providing details rest on the applicant.

2. Official documents submitted to authorities of new country at the time of obtaining citizenship/naturalization & documents used for entry such as US Form I -130.

3. Notarized letter explaining reasons for loss.

4. Police report.

A large majority of the new citizens did not have any use for their old Indian passports and may have lost, misplaced or never kept in their possession after naturalization. The production of items 1 and 2 above, in particular, will not be easy and could take months to obtain from the immigration authorities. In the meantime, consular services will not be available to visit the mother country, even for emergency situations.

I urge the Government of India to reconsider the retroactive enforcement of the new rules as thousands of people who have acquired citizenship of other countries could suffer undue and unnecessary hardship for no fault of their own, in addition to reducing the fee to a reasonable amount of $25.

End of text.


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