Canada’s failed responsibility to Deepan Budlakoti


Stacy Douglas,, 24 September 2014

On Tuesday September 9, the Federal Court released its decision in the case of Deepan Budlakoti, an Ottawa-born man fighting to regain the citizenship he lost four years ago. Justice Phelan refused to declare Budlakoti a citizen — noting that such action is a matter for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration –and ruled that Budlakoti’s rights under section 6 and 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have not been infringed.

The decision means that Budlakoti will continue to live under the authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). He is now left in legal limbo, effectively stateless and eternally incarcerated. Yet he was born in Canada, holds an Ontario birth certificate, a Canadian passport and has no other nationality.

Central to Phelan’s decision is the question of whether Budlakoti’s parents were employed by the Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa at the time of his birth. Section 3 of the Citizenship Act states that children of diplomats and other foreign officials born on Canadian soil are not considered citizens of this country.

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Made Stateless by Canada – The Ongoing Saga of Deepan Budlakoti

Dan Kellar, 12 September 2014, #DailyGRRR!, 100.3 CKMS reposted on

Here is an interview from the September 12th edition of the Daily GRRR! with Deepan Budlakoti, an Ottawa-born man whose citizenship was unilaterally revoked by the Harper government, a move that was recently upheld by a federal judge. Deepan will be appealing the decision that renders him stateless.

We speak about his situation, the Harper government’s attack on people of colour, and more.

To listen to the interview, click here. The tune at the end of the track is from Alas and Savage Fam –  a track entitled Go Away.

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Exile is Not a Canadian Value

11 September, Canadian Labour Congress

The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says it’s time for the Minister of Immigration to intervene in the plight of a Canadian-born man facing life as a stateless person.

Born to Indian diplomats in 1989, Deepan Budlakoti has lived his entire life in Canada. He’s got the Ontario birth certificate to prove it and has twice been issued a Canadian passport. Despite this, he now faces having his citizenship stripped away and deportation to India – a country in which he has never lived and which does not recognize him as an Indian national.

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Ottawa born man still fighting deportation order

Deepan BudlakotiMatt Harris, 1310 News, 10 September 2014

OTTAWA — A man born in Ottawa has faced another setback in his bid to fight a deportation order.

The federal government claimed Deepan Budlakoti’s parents worked for the Indian High Commission when he was born in Ottawa, and therefore he is not a Canadian citizen.

Budlakoti claims his parents stopped working as diplomats in June 1989 and were working for a Canadian doctor when he was born in October of the same year, making him Canadian.

The 24-year-old was convicted of weapons charges in 2011, beginning the deportation process.

Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan ruled Tuesday against Budlakoti.

He told 1310News he was issued a Canadian passport and an Ontario birth certificate and paid taxes.

“They acknowledged the fact I was a citizen for 21 years” said Budlakoti, “After 21 years they said I’m not a citizen.”

He says India has declared he is not a citizen of that country, and he is now stateless.

He has 30 days to file an appeal which he says will be done, adding he feels confident moving forward.

Ottawa man born in Canada loses round in fight for citizenship

Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press, published on, 10 September 2014

OTTAWA — An Ottawa man says he will appeal after losing a round in his court battle for Canadian citizenship.

Deepan Budlakoti was suddenly told by federal officials four years ago that he is not a citizen — even though he was born in Canada and had been issued a birth certificate and a Canadian passport.

The government argues Budlakoti did not automatically become a Canadian at birth in October 1989, as his parents were employed by a foreign diplomat, the Indian high commissioner.

Budlakoti, 24, was ordered out of Canada three years ago due to drug and firearms convictions. He unsuccessfully tried to challenge the order in court.

In December 2012 he completed his sentence and was released into custody of the Canada Border Services Agency.

Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan was not convinced by Budlakoti’s argument that his parents quit the Indian High Commission in June 1989, months before he was born.

“That employment terminated at some point in 1989 — the exact date is hotly contested and the facts in this record are difficult to make out,” Phelan says in his reasons for the judgment.

The judge says Budlakoti’s case is undermined by contemporary documentation, including a Dec. 6, 1989, employment authorization allowing his father to work for a new employer instead of the high commissioner.

In addition, Phelan says the fact Budlakoti was given a Canadian passport does not necessarily mean he was a Canadian citizen.

The judge dismissed the man’s claims that federal actions had violated his Charter of Rights guarantees to enter, remain in or leave Canada, and to life, liberty and security of the person.

In a statement Wednesday, Budlakoti and his supporters called the court ruling “shocking and deplorable.”

“Obviously, I will appeal,” Budlakoti said. “I refuse to be exiled from my homeland, to be made an outcast in my own society. This case is important for everyone in Canada, it sets a precedent that we should all be worried about.”

Budlakoti says he has been left stateless.

India has denied he is a citizen of that country or that he is entitled to citizenship, though Phelan says the record on this point “is sketchy at best” and “not a matter which this court can decide.”

The statement from Budlakoti’s supporters said the court decision fails to recognize any responsibility of Canada towards Budlakoti despite his lifelong, exclusive link to Canada.

“It is highly disappointing that the Federal Court is prepared to allow Deepan to languish as a stateless person indefinitely,” said Yavar Hameed, one of his lawyers.

‘Stateless’ Ottawa-born man loses bid for citizenship

Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen, 10 September 2014

Deepan Budlakoti said, ‘I was born here, raised here, lived here my whole entire life. But I’m not Canadian? Being stateless, it’s a terrible place to be.’

Ottawa-born Deepan Budlakoti, a 24-year-old who has never lived outside this country, has lost his bid to be declared a Canadian citizen by the Federal Court of Canada.

In a decision released Wednesday, Justice Michael Phelan ruled that Budlakoti, born to employees of the Indian Embassy in October 1989, does not have a claim to Canadian citizenship by virtue of his birth.

Unlike others, children born to foreign diplomatic staff in Canada do not automatically become citizens of this country.

Budlakoti had presented two sworn affidavits to support his contention that his parents had already left the Indian Embassy by the time he was born in Ottawa’s Grace Hospital — a fact that, if true, would make him a Canadian citizen. But Phelan rejected that material in favour of what he said was more reliable documentary evidence that indicated Budlakoti’s parents left the embassy in December 1989, two months after their son was born.

Budlakoti had no idea he wasn’t an official Canadian citizen until May 2010 when he ran afoul of the law. He was sentenced to three years in prison for weapons and cocaine trafficking, and ordered deported in December 2011 based on what federal officials deemed his “serious criminality.”

But India rejected him. Indian officials said Budlakoti is not a citizen and have refused Canada’s request to issue him travel documents.

It means that Budlakoti continues to live under the restrictive terms of a federal deportation order that can’t be enforced. He must report every month to the Canada Border Services Agency and live with his family. His other family members, including his parents, are all Canadian citizens.
For his part, Budlakoti contends he is effectively stateless: living in a legal limbo without health care, social services or employment opportunities.

“I was born here, raised here, lived here my whole entire life,” he said. “But I’m not Canadian? Being stateless, it’s a terrible place to be. I have nothing.”

Canada pledged in a 1961 UN treaty to reduce the incidence of statelessness but Budlakoti said Canada has violated that treaty by leaving him without a country. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has taken his case to the UN.

Budlakoti’s lawyers argued in Federal Court that his treatment offended the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But Justice Phelan said Budlakoti failed to establish a Charter violation.

Budlakoti said he intends to appeal Phelan’s ruling. “The judge completely ignores the fact I’m stateless and that Canada has an obligation to remedy it,” he said.

Federal lawyers have argued that Budlakoti is not stateless because there’s no evidence that he has applied for citizenship in either Canada or India.

During his 24 years in Canada, Budlakoti has been issued an Ontario birth certificate and two Canadian passports, and until last year received health-care services.

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Ottawa-born Deepan Budlakoti will challenge decision that leaves him stateless

Ottawa – Unceded, Unsurrendered Algonquin Land, 10 September 2014 – A shocking and deplorable decision handed down yesterday by Justice Phelan of the Federal Court claims that the stripping of Deepan Budlakoti’s citizenship is consistent with the laws of Canada. At the age of 21, Budlakoti, who was born in Ottawa, was suddenly informed that he was not a citizen. This resulted in his inability to hold a job, access health care, or receive other benefits of citizenship.  Justice Phelan claims that this process of denationalization is not an infringement of Deepan’s charter rights (s. 6 & 7).

“Obviously, I will appeal,” said Deepan Budlakoti. “I refuse to be exiled from my homeland, to be made an outcast in my own society. This case is important for everyone in Canada, it sets a precedent that we should all be worried about.”

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