Court awards man 1 yr jail term for visa fraud, says it impacts India's image

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Mumbai, Feb 11 (PTI) A magistrate's court recently awarded one year imprisonment to a man who was caught with a forged British Residence Permit at the international airport here, citing that such offences lower the country's image and pose visa problems for intelligent students.

Additional chief judicial magistrate (Andheri court) R R Khan on February 8 found Hardik Patel, a resident of Gujarat, guilty of offences committed under IPC sections 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 420 (cheating).

In the detailed order made available on Thursday, the court observed, 'Noticeably, the incident is in respect of deceiving the immigration authorities of two countries - India and the United Kingdom. The offences are serious.' Due to such offences, job aspirants and intelligent students will not get visa and image of nation will be lowered, the court noted.

These offences also have a diplomatic impact, it added.

As per the prosecution, in 2010, an immigration officer at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport while checking Patel's passport upon his arrival from London had certain doubts about the residence permit of Britain.

Further examination revealed that the accused had gone to the UK on a student visa in 2007, which also allowed him to work for 20 hours a week.

However, in 2008, his student visa expired and he obtained a British Residence Permit from April 2008 to December 2009 by applying before the Home Office, it was stated.

To get more time to work in the UK, Patel obtained another residence permit from December 2009 to November 2012 with the help of one Tejenderpal Singh Parmar and paid 3,000 British Pounds to a solicitor.

The investigation officer informed the court the British High Commission was contacted for verification and it officially confirmed that residence permit (from December 2009 to November 2012) used by the accused was forged.

The court while convicting Patel said the facts and circumstances of the case are self-indicative that the crime must have been committed in passion or obsession to earn money by overstaying in the UK.

'Shockingly, the accused being highly educated preferred to give the amount to a private person for residence permit without following the due process of law,' it added.