American journalist from VICE, Angad Singh, has been blacklisted by the Indian government after being accused of misrepresenting facts in his visa application.
The Delhi High Court heard Singh’s case against the government’s refusal to allow him entry into India, where he was deported back to New York in August 2022. The government told the court that Singh was blacklisted for violating certain norms and was an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holder.
The court granted time to the government’s counsel to obtain instructions and file an affidavit confirming whether any proceedings have been commenced against Singh, who produces documentaries for Vice News with a focus on Asia.
The court also asked the counsel to inform whether any show cause notice was issued to the petitioner. The court ordered the instructions to be placed before the court by way of an affidavit within two weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on February 28.
Depicting India in negative light
The government submitted that Singh had depicted India in a negative manner in the “India Burning” documentary. Advocate Swathi Sukumar, appearing for the journalist, submitted that under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, OCI card holders have all the rights recognized by the Constitution of India, except for certain rights as mentioned under section 7B (2). The lawyer also submitted that under section 7D of the Act, OCI cards cannot be canceled without a reasonable opportunity of being heard for the cardholder.
As per the government, an affidavit was filed by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) stating that Singh is a ‘blacklist subject’ and was blacklisted at the instance of the Consulate General of India in New York. The affidavit claimed that Singh had misrepresented facts in his application for a journalistic visa in 2020.
During the hearing, the government’s standing counsel, Anurag Ahluwalia, relied upon the provisions of the Foreigners Act and the Foreigners Order to argue that under section 11 (A) of the Foreigners Order, 1948, no foreigner can produce any picture, film, or documentary for public exhibition without permission in writing from the Union government. He said that this provision had been violated by the petitioner, resulting in his blacklisting despite being an OCI card holder.
In the petition, Singh challenged the government’s refusal to allow him entry into India as illegal and violative of Articles 14, 21, and 25 of the Constitution. He also challenged the government’s refusal to grant him a ‘Special Permit’ in response to his application made on September 22, 2021.
Singh submitted that he holds an OCI card, which was initially issued to him in March 2007 and renewed in August 2018. He said that he had applied for permission to shoot a documentary in India in January 2020 for Republic Day celebrations and other events and was granted a permit. However, since he couldn’t visit immediately, he applied for a second permission, which was granted to him on January 30, 2021.
In 2021, he applied for a special permit to cover some events and interviews, but the application was rejected. He received no response in regards to the rejection. He then applied for permission to shoot a food show in September 2021, but it was not granted.
The plea stated that in August 2022, Singh wanted to travel to India on a personal visit as he has roots in the country and also has relatives there. However, he was not permitted to enter India on arrival and was deported.