HC raises MEA and asks him to help the filmmaker whose “children are detained in Pak”

The Bombay HC on Monday arrested the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for making a film producer, who had demanded the safe return of his wife and children from Pakistan, “run from pillar to post”.

The court noted that during a previous hearing, the AEM had asked the producer to approach a co-secretary. However, the joint secretary redirected the applicant to another officer. The bench asked the MEA why there had been no response from the department to the petitioner’s grievances.

On August 29, the MEA told the court that the producer, who said his wife and minor children traveled to Pakistan to visit family and were then illegally barred from returning, could contact the co- secretary, who is also responsible for passports. , to know their location.

On Monday, a divisional bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Prithviraj K Chavan were told by petitioner BM Chatterji’s lead attorney that they had contacted the joint secretary, who redirected them to another officer in charge and despite a lapse of 10 days, the applicant received no response from the other officer.

The bench heard a plea from the Hindi filmmaker who said his wife, a Pakistani citizen, and his children traveled to Lahore in November 2020 with the children holding a “visit visa” valid until October 2021.

Claiming that his children were being held despite the expiry of their visitation visas, the petitioner, who filed a plea against his wife, brother and parents, sought instructions from the ministry and the police to facilitate the safe return safety of its two minors. children. He also said that Interpol’s assistance should be sought, if necessary, to get his family out of their “illegal” detention in Lahore, adding that they should be brought before the court. He also requested that his children as well as his wife, if found to be under duress, be located and protected with the assistance of the Pakistan High Commission until they return safely to India. .

“Why is there no answer?” Don’t run it from pillar to post in the ministry,” the bench told the authority. Central government lawyer Ashish Chavan assured the court that he would write to the MEA to quickly address the matter. The court asked the lawyer not only to address a communication, but also to speak with the agent by telephone.

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“Don’t just write, pick up your phone and ask. When the case was kept today, there should have been an answer ready. How long does it take to take instructions? See that this problem is solved. Talk to the relevant officer and see where the kids are. Find a contact number or email so that there is communication between the petitioner and his children,” the bench told the MEA lawyer.

Chavan argued the plea was not taken adversarially, after which the bench posted a rehearing for September 21.

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