Blacklisting of Karl Rock: What are the restrictions on Foreign Nationals entering India on Tourist Visa?

  • Shruti Kakkar
  • 09:30 AM, 12 Jul 2021

Manisha Malik, Wife of YouTuber blogger Karl Edward Rice (popularly known as Karl Rock) has moved Delhi High Court seeking to quash the blacklisting order which has barred him from entering in India since last October for violating the terms of his visa. 

Filed through Advocate Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi, the plea states that denial of Visa is unreasonable and arbitrary and depriving her from living with her husband is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The same is likely to come up this week.

New Zealand YouTuber, Karl Rock married Manisha Malik in 2019 and was thereby granted an X-2 visa (meant for spouses and children of an Indian citizen/ Person of Indian Origin/ OCI cardholder) which was valid up to May 2024. One of the visa conditions for him was to exit India every 180 days or to intimate the Foreigner Regional Registration Office concerned. 

In compliance with his visa conditions, Karl left for Dubai last year and when he left through New Delhi International Airport, he was informed that his visa has been cancelled and he has been blacklisted. 

According to ANI, Officials in the Union Home Ministry said his entry to India has been restricted till next year following the violation of the terms and conditions of his visa. "He was found to be taking part in business activities on a tourist visa and also violating other visa conditions," the officials said without specifying.

Furthermore, Rock in a tweet addressed to New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Rock highlighted his "struggle" and a petition that he launched in this regard. To this, some Twitter users posted screenshots of Mr Rock's December 2019 tweets protesting against the the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Many social media users cited this -- taking part in India's political activity -- as an example of how visa rules may have been violated by the YouTuber.

Reportedly, Rock also visited various restricted areas in India, including Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir, without any requisite permission & monetised his YouTube account. 

According to a Wion report, Ministry of home affairs officials stated that he was a "habitual offender" and in the past, he has been to various restricted areas in India, including Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir without taking permission. He made several videos, including a video, "Do Indians eat beef? guide to eating beef in India", which was seen as a major concern.

In light of the same, it is imperative to understand some of the laws to be followed by a Foreign National who enter India on an X2 Visa.

Term For Which An X-2 Visa Is Granted

Spouses and children of an Indian citizen/ Person of Indian Origin/ OCI cardholder (other than those who are registered as OCI cardholder) may be granted ‘X-2’ visa for a period of five years at a time, with multiple entry facility.

After completion of 5 years from the date of issue of X-1/ X-2 visa , if further extension is required, the proposal shall be referred by FRRO/ FRO concerned to the Ministry of Home Affairs for clearance. 

MHA would grant extension for one year after the expiry of the initial period of five years. Subsequent extensions, if any, up to a total period of another 5 years at a time may be granted by FRROs /FROs concerned. The same procedure will be adopted if further extension is required.

Activities Permitted Under Tourist Visa

The General Policy Guidelines related to Indian Visa state that Foreign Nationals are required to strictly adhere to the purpose of visit which is declared while submitting the visa application. Furthermore, a foreign national (other than a Pakistani national) coming to India on any type of visa will be allowed to avail activities permitted under Tourist Visa.

Restrictions On Foreign Nationals entering India on Tourist Visas

Tabligh Activities

As per the General Policy Guidelines related to Indian Visa issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreign nationals are restricted from engaging in Tabligh Activities. Under this, 

“Foriegn nationals granted any type of visa and OCI cardholders shall not be permitted to engage themselves in tabligh work. There will be no restriction in visiting religious places and attending normal religious activities like attending religious discourses. However, preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio or visual display/ pamphlets pertaining to religious ideologies, spreading conversion etc. will not be allowed.”

Employment, Business & Prior permission to visit Protected/restricted Area

Furthermore, as per the guideline mentioned under Bureau for Immigration, Employment/Business is not permitted on entry 'X' visa.

If a foreign national intends to visit a place in the Protected/ Restricted Area for activities other than tourism on a Visa other than Tourist Visa, prior permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs shall be taken before grant of Protected Area Permit (PAP)/ Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to the foreigner and grant of PAP/ RAP for the specific purpose (i.e. Business, Employment, Studies etc.) shall be endorsed on the passport of the foreigner. Besides, if a foreign national intends to visit a place in the Protected/ Restricted Area which is not opened for tourism on a Tourist Visa, prior reference shall be made to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Penalty for Contravention 

Section 14 of the Foreigner’s Act, 1946 deals with the Penalties for Contravention of the provisions of the Act. 

As per section 14(b) of the Act, if any person does any act in violation of the conditions of the valid visa issued to him for his entry and stay in India or any part thereunder shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine. Furthermore in case he has entered into a bond in pursuance of Section 3(2)(f), then his bond shall be forfeited, and any person bound thereby shall pay the penalty thereof or show cause to the satisfaction of the convicting Court why such penalty should not be paid by him.