High court ruling to let US shooter represent India contested

April 8th, 2010 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) The central government Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling allowing a US citizen of Indian origin and Punjab police chief’s son to represent India in international rifle shooting events.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan that the government has filed a lawsuit against the high court order.

Seeking its early hearing, Subramaniam sought the high court’s March 18 order be suspended until the apex court decides the case.

The high court asked the union sports ministry to allow shotgun shooter Sohrab Singh Gill, a US citizen and son of the Punjab Police chief Paramdeep Singh Gill, to represent India in international shooting competitions.

Subramaniam told the apex court bench that the high court has erroneously equated non-resident Indians (NRIs) with the overseas citizens of India (OCI), ignoring the government’s specific policy decision of December 2008 that “only Indian nationals are eligible to be a part of the national team and walk under the Indian flag.”

Contesting Subramaniam’s argument, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Gill, contended that “as NRIs can represent India so can OCIs.”

This prompted the chief justice to remark, “Why don’t you give up US citizenship, if you want to represent India?”

The bench decided to hear the matter April 19.

The government’s lawsuit, filed by the secretary of ministry of youth affairs and sports, contended that Gill was a US citizen by birth. He opted to continue to be an American citizen even after attaining majority in 2005.

The lawsuit said Gill secured his OCI status on April 9, 2007. The OCI status only accords him certain privileges in the fields of economy, finance and education.

The lawsuit sought to assert that an OCI cannot be treated on par with Indian citizens, including the non-resident Indian, who merely lives abroad, while retaining his Indian citizenship and holding his Indian passport and identity.

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