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Delhi HC directs Centre to issue passport to Manipur couple exiled for 23 years

The couple had visited Thailand in 1994, where the woman had lost her passport

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Delhi HC directs Centre to issue passport to Manipur couple exiled for 23 years
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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed a couple, who was exiled for 23 years, to return home.

In an order, dated August 28, a bench comprising Gita Mittal, the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, and Justice C Hari Shankar, directed the centre to issue a valid passport to the couple.

The couple, Luingam Luithui and his wife, both residents of Manipur were on holiday in Bangkok in 1994 when the wife’s passport was stolen. They then approached the Indian Embassy for a duplicate, but were denied one.

According to the government, the couple was denied a passport by the Indian Embassy in Thailand because they allegedly had links with leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, which has, under the Unlawful Prevention Act 1967, been identified as an unlawful organisation.

Both Luingam and his wife have refuted the allegations and said that they were harassed by the Thai police.

The couple then approached the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which then sent them to Canada.

However, even in Canada, the Indian Embassy allegedly impounded Luingam’s passport without prior justification.

Terming the harassment of the couple as the ‘worst kind of deprivation possible’, the Delhi High Court observed that the passport authorities should have given the copy of the recorded briefings as it is mandatory under section 10 of the passport act, it said  “The impounding of passport has therefore, drastic consequences especially, if you are outside the boundary of India. There can be no compromise with statutory compliances for such actions….The violation thereof as in the present case is a complete illegality.” 

The High court has also directed the government to renew valid passports to both Luingam and his wife.

“To us, it is extremely distressing that two Indian citizens have been constrained to seek refuge from the United Nations Commission for Refugees and thereafter, when deprived of their identities by the respondents, to seek passports from the Canadian authorities. Can these deprivations ever be adequately compensated in any terms? The answer has to be a clear no. More than anything else, they need restoration of their ties with their country and family members".

This judgment came as relief for the couple, who will now have to give up their Canadian citizenship as a pre-condition to receive the renewed passport.

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