Deepan Budlakoti challenges government to recognize his citizenship

Photo: flickr/Jeff NelsonMyriam Katawazi, Rabble.ca, 17 June 2014

On June 16, Deepan Budlakoti, an Ottawa-born man, appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada challenging the government to recognize his citizenship.

Deepan Budlakoti is the son of two former workers at the Indian High Commission. After his arrest on criminal charges, which included two counts of illegal transfer of firearms and prohibited possession of firearms, he was told by Canadian authorities that he is not, in fact, a Canadian citizen and was issued a passport in error. This has left Budlakoti stateless.

If Budlakoti is successful in his challenge, the government would have to recognize him as a Canadian citizen and state their actions violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“It is unlawful under both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and International law to strip away someone’s citizenship, when the effect of that, is to leave them without a nationality — and that is what has happened with Deepan Budlakoti,” says Budlakoti’s lawyer, Yavar Hameed.

“The basis upon which Canada Border Services Agency makes the claim that he is not a citizen is that his parents were staff of the Indian government at the time of his birth and therefore, according to Canadian law, he is not a citizen. Thus, he was issued a deportation order,” says Hameed.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that federal lawyer Korinda McLaine, said that Budlakoti is not a Canadian citizen because his parents were foreign nationals employed by the Indian high commission.

“That is factually incorrect; we have information from the employer of Mr. Budlakoti’s parents at the time of his birth, that they were Canadian citizens, were living in Ottawa and were not part of the Indian embassy,” Hameed argued.

Hameed added that the government of India has already stated that Budlakoti is not an Indian national.

“There needs to be a declaration by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that Deepan Budlakoti is a citizen, all his rights need to be restored and every restriction to his liberty need to be removed,” Hameed said.

Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and rabble’s news intern. She has a strong passion for human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats.