The Bombay High Court has come to the aid of a 19-year-old woman stranded in Dubai in view of the Centre’s coronavirus travel advisory by directing the Indian Immigration Bureau to grant her visa to travel to Mumbai.
The woman got stuck in Dubai after she was prevented from boarding her connecting flight to Mumbai from the USA in view of the Government of India (GoI) advisory.
A division bench of Justices S J Kathawala and R I Chagla was on Tuesday heard a petition filed by the woman’s mother seeking a direction to the concerned authorities to grant her daughter the visa to travel to Mumbai.
While directing the authorities to grant the woman the visa, the bench referred to her young age and the circumstances that she was stranded in Dubai without any family member accompanying her.
The petitioner claimed that her daughter had boarded a flight from Boston in the USA on March 12.
However, she was refused permission by airlines authority in Dubai to board her connecting flight to Mumbai on the ground that it was past midnight of March 13, and that the consolidated travel advisory issued by the Indian government keeping all visas in abeyance till April 15, 2020 had come into effect.
The bench on Tuesday took up the petition for urgent hearing and in its order noted that as per the travel advisory issued by the government what needs to be seen was the time of departure from the original port and not the time of arrival.
“The petitioner’s daughter could not have been denied boarding her onward flight to Mumbai on the strength of these circulars nor can the respondents deny her a visa and leave her stranded at Dubai away from her family and permanent place of residence in India,” the court said in its order.
The bench noted that the petitioner’s daughter was wrongly detained and refused permission to board her flight from Dubai to Mumbai.
“She (the petitioner’s daughter) is 19 years old and is stranded in Dubai with no family member with her,” the court said, adding that a compelling case has been made out for granting her visa to return to Mumbai to be with her family.
“This in fact ought to have been done by the Indian Diplomatic Commission itself but unfortunately, they did not accede to the request made by the petitioner,” the court said.
The bench directed the Immigration Bureau to grant the petitioner’s daughter visa to travel to Mumbai.
The court, however, added that its order shall not be considered as a precedent and that it has ordered for visa to be granted in this case considering the facts and circumstances of the same.
The petitioner’s counsel Dinyar Madon argued that Immigration Bureau of India and the Indian Diplomatic Mission in Dubai, UAE, had acted in high-handed, arbitrary and wrongful manner.
As per the plea, visa was refused to the petitioner’s daughter in view of the consolidated travel advisory for novel coronavirus disease issued by the Indian government on March 11, 2020 which levied visa restrictions.
According to the petition, while the petitioner is an Indian citizen and holds a passport, her daughter was born in the USA and hence she is an American citizen.
The petitioner’s daughter completed her graduation in Mumbai and later went back to America to pursue further studies.
The Indian government on March 11 announced suspension of all visas from midnight of March 13 till April 15, 2020.
The travel advisory further provided that if any foreigners intending to travel to India, they could apply to the nearest Indian Mission for grant of visa making out compelling reasons.
Following the advisory, the petitioner modified her daughter’s travel plans and advanced her flight to March 12.
The petitioner stated that she had requested the Indian Diplomatic Mission in Dubai to consider her daughter’s situation in Dubai but they refused to provide assistance, following which she approached the high court.