Mumbai: A Pakistani woman national, who has been acquitted in a case of possessing fake Indian currency after remaining in jail for 30 months, has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of authorities to deny her permission to return to her country. Rashida Tinwalla, 42, who had come to India in December 2009 and claims to be "penniless", is a divorcee and her three minor kids stay with her parents in Karachi. Now, in Mumbai, she stays on staircases of buildings, her lawyer Sham Keshwani said.
She claimed that the authorities had wrongfully disallowed her to leave India unless she paid a Rs four lakh fine slapped on her in a Customs' case of smuggling fake currency as she has no money, assets or relatives here who can help her.
Her petition came up for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, who asked the Union government to file a reply within three weeks. Tinwalla has challenged an order of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and a Communication of Special Branch of Police denying her permit to return to her country.
Her petition said that she came to Mumbai from Karachi on December 21, 2009, to attend sermons by a spiritual leader during Moharram. Two days later, DRI arrested her on charge of carrying fake Indian currency notes having face value of Rs 18 lakh. However, she did not seek bail as she was penniless and also has no relatives in India.
A fast track court put her on trial and after serving 30 months in prison, the court, on April 13, 2012, acquitted her of all the charges. But proceedings were pending against her in another court under the Customs Act for smuggling fake currency. In this case, Tinwalla claimed she pleaded guilty to the charge as she was in a hurry to go back to Pakistan.
The court awarded her a two-year and eight months sentence. However, as she was confined to jail for the same period as an undertrial, she was set free. Sham Keshwani said that the trial court returned her passport after acquitting her. She then went to Special Branch II of police for exit permit but they asked her to obtain NOC from DRI.
DRI, however, refused her NOC saying Customs had slapped a penalty of Rs four lakh on her and that unless this was paid she could not leave India. It was pleaded that she did not have any money with her and also no relatives here.
Keshwani argued that there was no provision in Customs Act under which an exit permit could be denied. If a person fails to pay fine, his or her movable or immovable properties could be attached. But she does not have any assets.