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Foreigners Lose OCI Status When Divorced From Indian Nationals, MHA Tells HC

Foreigners registered as OCI because of their marriage to Indian nationals will no longer enjoy that status after their divorce, the MHA informed the Delhi HC

PTI

Foreigners registered as OCI (overseas citizens of India) because of their marriage to Indian nationals will no longer enjoy that status after their divorce, the Central government told the Delhi HC on Friday. Due to the same policy, the Indian embassy in Brussels recently asked a Belgian woman to surrender her OCI card after the dissolution of her marriage with an Indian national, the MHA informed.

The woman has now moved to the HC challenging the provision of the Citizenship Act Section 7D(f), under which a foreign spouse of an Indian national would lose OCI status after divorce. MHA said the Section makes it clear that PCI status applies to foreigners on the strength of their spouse is a citizen of India or an OCI cardholder.

MHA said the woman was issued a Person of Indian Origin card by the embassy of India in Brussels, on August 21, 2006, on the basis of her marriage with an Indian national. She legally divorced her husband in October 2011, and the PIO card should have been cancelled that time, but it was not done.

Moreover, an OCI card was inadvertently issued to her in 2017 even though she was not married to an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder at that time and now must surrender the same.

The petitioner's stand

The woman has contended that asking her to surrender her OCI card has no basis in law and “also violates the twin doctrines of legitimate expectation and promissory estoppel for the simple reason that she was already divorced when she received her OCI card on February 15, 2017.

She has said in her petition that she received the OCI card when the Indian government merged the Person of Indian Origin (POI) and OCI schemes. “Hence, the concerned provisions of the Citizenship Act by way of which a foreign national married to an Indian citizen loses her right to hold an OCI card in case of divorce have no application to her whatsoever,” she has claimed in her plea.

She had received her POI card in 2006 and it was valid till August 2021, the petition has said and added that she had divorced her husband in 2011 which was communicated to the Indian embassy in Belgium in 2016.

(With inputs from PTI)

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