Kerala High Court: In a recent case where respondent authorities illegally seized the passport of the dependants (wife and children) of victim of human trafficking in USA and denied them to travel to America, a bench of A.V.R. Pillai J, held that the denial of the same is not only violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioners but also detrimental to the very concept of right, duties and obligations in matrimonial living of spouses.

The counsel for the petitioner M.P. Ramnath contended that when the petitioners are having due visas granted by the Government of USA and when there is nothing illegal about the petitioners duly traveling to USA to join their husband /father (victim of human trafficking in USA), it is absolutely illegal and baseless to restrain the petitioners to travel to USA. The counsel for the respondent N. Nagaresh contended that if the petitioners are permitted to go abroad, it would be against the provisions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, 2000 passed by USA.

The Court observed that the Government of USA has granted proper visa to the petitioners to join their husband/father, and that the petitioners are not involved in any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation and are not the violators of the laws/ norms/ sovereignty and integrity of the country. The Court noted that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves eligibility for grant of T-visa to a victim of severe form of trafficking and dependents only after detailed procedures, verification, adjudication and evaluation of independent evidence.

The Court found that in the instant case there is no violation of the provisions of Passport Act, 1967, and accordingly held that restraint of petitioners holding a valid T2 and T3 visa from traveling abroad to join husband/father who is duly employed therein is not only violation of the fundamental right of the petitioners but also detrimental to psychological growth and development of the spouse and children. The Court directed the respondents to permit and enable the petitioners to travel to USA.

A trafficking visa (T-visa) is a type of visa allowing certain victims of human trafficking and immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the United States, if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators. Mary Redi Kottunkal Joy v. Bureau of Immigration, 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 940, decided on 04-03-2015

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