The Kerala High Court on Thursday refused to grant the extension for the stay of a 74-year-old US citizen, Johnny Paul Pierce, who had earlier said that he felt safer to remain in India than in the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The single-judge bench of Justice CS Dias, which considered the writ petition, observed that the grant or extension of visa to foreign nationals fall exclusively within the domain of the Government of India (GoI) and that judicial review in such matters is minimal.
The power of the GoI to expel foreigners is absolute and unlimited, the bench said.
"In view of the categoric declaration of law by the Supreme Court, the plea of the petitioner to permit him to stay back in India cannot be accepted, as it falls within the purview of the guidelines and the discretion of the Government of India," the order said.
"The petitioner cannot be heard that the guidelines/policies/regulations formulated by the Government of India, that an American national though has been granted a visa having validity of five years has to leave India within 180 days, is irrational or unreasonable," it added.
The High Court, which was hearing a plea to permit the US citizen to stay in India for a further period of six months, said that the petitioner does not have a case that there is an infraction of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
"The petitioner was well aware of the visa conditions when he arrived in India, and it is too late in the day for him to raise a grievance on the visa conditions," the bench said noting that the petitioner''s love for India was heartening.
The High Court also directed the Foreigners Registration Officer to consider the petitioner's representation within a period of two weeks in accordance with the applicable guidelines and policies.