A MISSIONARY pundit from India has taken legal action against the Immigration Department of Trinidad and Tobago challenging the decision to deport him.
Mohanadatta Kumar Pogula has been granted leave by the High Court for judicial review of the decision of the Chief Immigration Officer to deny permission for his continued stay.
Leave was granted by Justice Frank Seepersad in Chambers to judicially review and quash the order made on the February 6 to deny Pogula and his family an extension of time to remain in the country.
In an affidavit filed by Ramesh Pragg, a trustee of the Sri Dattatreya Yoga Centre, Orangefield, Carapichaima, it stated that Pogula, his wife and infant child came to Trinidad on January 24 with the intention of the yoga centre to retain him as a priest.
Upon entry at the airport they were granted until February 6 to stay in the country.
Pragg said that the yoga centre wished for them to remain as missionaries and applied to the Ministry of National Security for a three year missionary permit for them.
The trustee said that they were advised to go the Immigration Department for their passports to be stamped for an extension of their stay pending the grant of the missionary permit.
However, on February 6 they were interviewed by an officer in the Immigration Department in San Fernando, who denied their further stay.
Pragg said that their permits were returned despite his repeated pointing out of the immigration officer that their missionary permits were pending at the national security ministry.
The trustee's attorney sought legal action and sent a letter to the Chief Immigration Officer requesting re-consideration of the applications for the stay of the pundit and his family.
However there has been no reply, Pragg said.
“Our organisation has expended a lot of money to bring the pundit and his family to Trinidad expecting, as in the past, that the missionary permit would be granted while they are in Trinidad and Tobago. I have no doubt that the missionary permit would be granted but the stamping of the passports is necessary to regularise their stay in Trinidad”, stated Pragg.
The first respondent in the claim is the Chief Immigration Officer and the second respondent is Attorney General Faris Al Rawi.
The yoga centre is seeking an order seeking to quash the decision of the first respondent and thereby extending the stay of Pogula and his family, an order restraining the immigration department from deporting them while the permit is pending, reliefs, damages and costs.
The claim is to be filed on or before February 24 and will come up for hearing on March 7 at 9.30 a.m. in the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.