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NMC Founder BR Shetty Challenges Immigration Dept's Move to Prevent him Flying to UAE

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Satish Kumar/File photo

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the NMC specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Satish Kumar/File photo

His petition, filed in the Karnataka high court on Nov. 30, said immigration officials at Bengaluru airport stopped him boarding a flight to the UAE on Nov 14, "without assigning any reasons whatsoever".

The founder of troubled hospital operator NMC Health has filed a legal challenge against a move by Indian immigration authorities to prevent him from departing to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month, according to his court petition seen by Reuters.

BR Shetty's NMC, listed in London and UAE's biggest hospital group, went into administration in April following months of turmoil over its finances and the company's disclosure that it had $6.6 billion in debt, well above its earlier estimates.

Shetty had said last month he planned to return to the UAE and denied reports he had fled the country after the hospital group's implosion.

His petition, filed in the Karnataka high court on Nov. 30, said immigration officials at Bengaluru airport stopped him boarding a flight to the UAE on Nov 14, "without assigning any reasons whatsoever".

Shetty said in the petition that he then asked the immigration department why he was stopped and for permission to travel abroad but had not heard from them since.

The petition was filed against India's external affairs ministry, the immigration bureau and Foreign Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) Bengaluru.

It asked the court to declare the move by immigration officials as "illegal" and grant Shetty permission to travel abroad, adding he urgently needed to go to the UAE for personal reasons.

Shetty declined to comment.

The Immigration Bureau, India's External Affairs Ministry and FRRO Bengaluru also did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Two sources directly aware of the matter said action against Shetty was taken by Indian authorities based on a complaint filed by Bank of Baroda.

Bank of Baroda did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Bank of Baroda is suing Shetty for backing away from an agreement it says was decided at a March meeting to give the bank 16 properties as collateral for debts and to secure additional guarantees.

Shetty has said the agreement is a "fraudulent document", according to a statement of objection filed to an Indian court and seen by Reuters.

Shetty's petition against immigration officials was heard on Friday. The respondents have been asked to file their reply within a week, according to one of the sources, and the case is set to be heard next on Dec. 11. The sources declined to be identified because of sensitivity of the legal proceedings.

first published:December 05, 2020, 17:43 IST