Bombay HC comes to the rescue of Ukranian 'Hindu' lady

Mumbai: There was a reason to rejoice for a 30-year-old Ukranian national, after the Bombay High Court on Friday ordered the immigration authorities not to penalise her for her overstay in India. The HC has also ordered the authorities to consider her application for five years visa and decide the same expeditiously.

The woman – Nataliya Yesaulenko, who has embraced Hinduism – had approached a bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla, highlighting the alleged 'high-handedness and arbitrariness' manifested by the immigration authorities, while issuing her a visa.

According to Yesaulenko, she has worked as a junior artist in the Hritik Roshan-starrer Mohenjo Daro. She claimed to have landed in India after a brief 'online affair' with Kandivali resident Chirag Vegda. The couple got married in 2015 and within a year, she alleges, Vegda ill-treated her and later threw her out of his house and she was forced to live in some or the other shelter home for a year.

In her plea, Yesaulenko has stated, that she finally got a single-room to live in that too after Vegda started paying maintenance of Rs 25,000 per month, after a bitter battle before a Borivali court.

The foreigner, who now runs a dance school in Kandivali area, has accused the immigration authorities of interfering with her privacy and deliberately delaying in giving her a five-year visa. She has claimed that the authorities have been issuing only three or six months 'tourist' visas to her despite the fact that she is a legally wedded wife of Vegda as per the Hindu Marriage Act. She has also challenged the 'exorbitant' rates demanded by the immigration authorities to issue her the short-term visas.

“I challenge the repeated short-term visas issued in succession by the authorities without considering my eligibility, circumstances and bona fides that entitle me to procure a five year visa. The discretion exercised in issuance of such visas to me is arbitrary, whimsical, fanciful, much to my prejudice,” Yesaulenko has stated in her plea.

She has alleged that the authorities have been acting in clear disobedience of the Hindu marital law and have been absolutely racist towards her marriage by treating her as a random tourist and not as a legally wedded wife of Vegda.

Having heard her grievances, Justice Dharmadhikari asked advocate Sandesh Patil, appearing for the immigration authority, to waive off the penalty of Rs 5,000 imposed on her for her overstay. “Also, consider her application for a five year visa, on merits,” Justice Dharmadhikari said while adjourning the case till next week.

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