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Pakistan national Asif Karadia is all of 52 years of which he has spent over 50 in India on a long-term visa but without a passport. His wife and three children are Indian citizens, he pays taxes, has documents like Aadhaar card, ration card, PAN card and even voter ID card, and wants his application for Indian citizenship, pending for the last seven years, accepted. Coming to the aid of Karadia, the Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to help him with his pending application for Indian citizenship. A bench of justices R M Borde and Rajesh Ketkar asked the state government to file an affidavit in two weeks giving details of the procedure that Karadia has to follow to get his application processed. Karadia told the court he was born in Karachi and brought to India by his mother when he was only a few days old and has lived here ever since, without a Pakistani passport. His parents, he said, were born in Gujarat before partition. Karadia, who works at a restaurant, said his citizenship application was pending with the Union government for over seven years now. He approached the high court through his lawyers Ashish Mehta and Sujay Kantawala to seek a stay on the deportation notice against him.
He also prayed for his long-term visa to be extended till the government decided on his application for Indian citizenship. In 2016, another bench of the court had denied him any interim relief, observing that even if a person is entitled to Indian citizenship, he or she cannot "at any given time, be authorised to reside in the country without valid papers". The bench had also ordered an inquiry into how the central government has been issuing him long term visa for so many years when Karadia does not have a passport. In January 2017, a division bench led by Justice S C Dharmadhikari observed that Karadia's case was "unique", and in an interim order, directed the state and the Centre not to take any coercive action against him. Yesterday, the bench led by Justice Borde took note of the submission by Karadia's lawyers that the authorities were making him run from pillar to post for the last several years and not deciding on his citizenship application. Justice Borde directed the state to submit a timeline of the documents it had forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs to help process Karadia's application.
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