Kerala High Court

Kerala High Court: In a disturbing case where a German National, who came to India on a 1-year visa for NGO volunteer work alleged of being sexually harassed and arbitrarily served with an exit permit to leave India, N. Nagaresh, J., issued notice to the General Secretary of the NGO and imposed an interim stay on the exit permit.

The petitioner, who was working as a volunteer teacher at an NGO named Sister Hatune Foundation, approached the Kerala High Court alleging sexual harassment against the NGO’s General Secretary (the respondent hereinafter). The woman alleged that the General Secretary of the foundation made sexual advances toward her and committed sexual offences with other girl students of the institution. Apart from that, she also alleged that the General Secretary wrongfully collected fees for imparting lessons to the students, which was not contemplated by the foundation and made the petitioner to live in unhygienic and unreasonable conditions.

The petitioner contended that when she tried to question the conduct of the respondent, he became inimical towards her and fabricated a termination letter of the foundation and conveyed it to the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) who unilaterally, arbitrarily and illegally cancelled her visa which is to be expired on 06-03-2023 without conducting an enquiry or without hearing the petitioner. Resultantly, the petitioner was asked to leave India on or before September 10.

Aggrieved by the premature cancellation of her visa, the petitioner contended that such premature cancellation violates natural justice and United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and infringes Article 21 rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Hence, the petitioner urged the Court to grant urgent interim relief staying the operation of the exit permit and initiate criminal proceedings against the respondent for various criminal offences including Sexual Harassment.

In the backdrop of the above, the Court issued notice to the General Secretary of the NGO, the Central Government, Bureau of Immigration and FRRO. Further, the Court also stayed the exit permit and the FRRO’s order nullifying the petitioner’s visa. The matter is listed on 23-09-2022 for further hearing.

[X v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 4529, order dated 06-09-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

M/s. Raghul Sudheesh, K.J.Glaxon, J.Lakshmi, Elizabeth Mathew, Amal Jees, Alex, Bini Das, and K.K.Subeesh, Counsels for the Petitioner;

Assistant Solicitor General of India, Counsels for the Respondents.

*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

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