The ministry of home affairs cancelled author Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status, following which a controversy broke out with some questioning the move.

The home ministry made it clear that the OIC was revoked as he had suppressed information that his late father was of Pakistan origin.

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While many linked the move by the government to Taseer’s article titled, “Divider in Chief,” a close look at the rules and norms clearly states that the decision was well within the purview of the law.

Taseer disputed the claim by the home ministry that he had been given an opportunity to respond. The MHA said that Taseer had concealed information that his father was of Pakistan origin. Barring Pakistan and Bangladesh, the OCI card allows foreign nationals of Indian origin to work indefinitely and enter India without a visa.

The MHA had said that Taseer had been accorded an opportunity to represent, but he had failed to do so. Taseer said that he was not given the full 21 days to respond, but rather 24 hours to reply. I have heard nothing from the ministry since, he said.

Misrepresentation of facts:

Some media outlets went into overdrive mode and said that the government revoked the OCI after his article that appeared in the Time a few months back. The home ministry said that this is a complete misrepresentation and devoid of any facts.

The action by the government was well within the purview of the law and was taken under the provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1955.

In this context one must take a look at Section 7A of the Act. As per Section 7A (1), “the Central Government may, subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be prescribed, on an application made in this behalf, register as an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder.”

In this context one must look closely at clauses of the act. It states, “ provided further that no person who or either of whose parents or grandparents, great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder under this sub-section.

This clause clearly makes Taseer ineligible for the OCI. His father was a Pakistan citizen and hence he is not eligible for the OCI card.

Another clause to look at is Section 4 of the Citizenship Act. The section deals with Citizenship by descent. It states, ‘any person born outside India shall be a citizen of India by descent.” It further states, ‘on or after the 26th day of January 1950 but before the 10th day of December 1992, if his father is a citizen of India at the time of birth or on or after the 10th day of December 1992, if either of the parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.’

This clause adds further clarity as to why Taseer is not eligible for the OCI card. His father Salman Taseer was a Pakistan national, while his mother Tavleen Singh is an Indian journalist.

Taseer was born in November 1980 and the law clearly speaks about being born outside India after the 10th day of December 1992. There are two clauses that work against him. First and foremost, his father was a Pakistani. He could argue that his mother is an Indian national. But since he was born before December 1992, he becomes ineligible.

The home ministry made it clear that Taseer had hidden facts as the OCI card is not issued to any person whose parents or grandparents are Pakistanis. The Citizenship Act further states that the registration of the OCI card holder will be cancelled if it was obtained by means of false representation, fraud, concealment of any material. In such an event, the person in question shall also be blacklisted thereby banning his or her future entry into India, the Act also states.

Tracing the OCI card:

Taseer was was first given a PIO card in the year 1999. He was issued an OCI card in the year 2016 after the PIO and OCI cards were merged. The card was issued to him on the basis that he is a child of an Indian national.

While his father Salman Taseer was a Pakistan national, he was raised by his mother Tavleen Singh as a single mother and also the sole legal guardian. Salman was born in undivided India at Shimla and his mother was a British passport holder.

This was because they were never married and were also estranged. In the year 1982, Singh had given an affidavit stating that she is the lone guardian. Taseer holds a British passport and also a Green Card in the United States. While he grew up in India, an Indian visa was never stamped.