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Saturday, February 25, 2012

India - 'Quit India' In One Week, High Court Tells Chabad Rabbi

KOCHI: The Jewish couple from Israel, who had been served with 'quit India' order by the district collector earlier, should be deported within a week, a single bench of the Kerala High Court ordered on Friday.

When a petition challenging the deportation order came up for hearing on Friday, Justice S Siri Jagan ordered the couple, Shneor Zalman Bernstein and Yaffa Shendi Keing from Bloy Street in Jerusalem, to "quit India within one week." The couple can seek other measures to fight deportation with in the one week time, the court ruled.

Last week, the court had ordered the district collector to hear the allegation raised by the couple that their version was not heard before passing the deportation order. On Friday, State Attorney P Vijayaraghavan handed over to court the report by the collector that stated the couple should be ordered to leave, a decision taken after hearing the couple's grievances.

The couple came to Kochi on March 3, 2010 and had been staying in a rented house at Rose Street in Fort Kochi. Notices for deportation within 15 days were slapped on them by the district collector, on the basis of a report by the deputy commissioner of police (administration and crimes) on January 30 this year, citing violation of tourist visa norms.

According to the notice, the couple violated visa norms by organizing activities related to their religious life and belief under the religious organization " chabad" in a synagogue at Mattanchery. The notice cited lack of special endorsement in the entry visa to engage in such activities in India.

State government had contended that the deportation order was issued on the basis of intelligence report. The government also highlighted that guidelines issued by the central government which restrict foreigners arriving on tourist visas from undertaking any employment, business, or other profession.

In the petition filed through advocate R Lakshmi Narayan, the couple had contended that the husband was a qualified rabbi, who had been invited by Cochin Synagogue to help in prayers, rituals related to birth, death, and marriage of the Jewish community here, as well as for preserving the heritage of the community.

The wife came along with the rabbi to help in the services, the petition had stated. The couple was brought in as there were no suitably trained persons available among the Jewish community in Kochi to conduct rituals, the petition said.

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