Federal Court hears Budlakoti’s citizenship case

Budlakoti_250pxAaron L. Pope, Ottawa Star, 20 June 2014

Deepan Budlakoti, the Ottawa-born man facing deportation by the Canadian government, appeared in front of the Federal Court of Canada on Monday, June 16 to fight for the return of his Canadian citizenship.

Dozens of supporters gathered on the front steps of the Supreme Court, where the hearing was held, to show their support for Budlakoti before the hearing got underway.

Budlakoti has been fighting to stay in Canada, the only home he’s ever known, for the past three years. The Canadian government is of the opinion that Budlakoti should never have been granted citizenship due to the circumstances of his birth along with two criminal convictions.

The government points to the fact that Budlakoti’s parents were employed as housekeepers for the Indian Ambassador in 1989 and under the 1977 Citizenship act, children born to foreign diplomats are excluded from Canadian citizenship.

In a signed letter, the former High Commissioner for India swore that Budlakoti’s parents had ceased working for him in June of 1989, several months before Deepan was born at Grace Hospital in Ottawa.

Korinda McLaine, the attorney for the government in this case argued to have the case thrown out saying, “There is no such thing as a de facto citizen,” and the case of whether or not Budlakoti is a citizen is mute because he never applied for citizenship to begin with.

Both Budlakoti’s parents had applied for citizenship, but never applied for their newborn son because they believed he was Canadian by virtue of being born in Canada.

Budlakoti’s lawyers say there is more to this case than the circumstances of his birth to consider. If the government’s attempt to strip Budlakoti’s citizenship is successful, he will be left stateless as India has refused to grant him Indian citizenship and will not issue travel documents.

The Federal Court will now consider whether or not Budlakoti’s Charter of Rights challenge will go ahead, but have not announced when that decision will be made.

Photo credit: Justice for Deepan website