By Gurbir Singh:
A former forklift driver of Hamilton who has been in New Zealand since 2009, has gone into hiding to avoid forceful deportation for “falsifying his driving licence”until his appeal to the Ombudsman is known.
Jodhbir Singh,31 and hails from Amritsar district, has moved out of his family home to live separately from his wife, Sawreet Kaur and their three-year-old son who was born in New Zealand.
He was served a Deportation Liability Notice in June last year following an allegation he submitted a false Indian License to support an application for a New Zealand visa.
Jodhbir’s visa was linked to his wife’s job as a restaurant manager and she and her son are eligible to stay here until 2020. He denied this allegation of license forgery, but his appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) against deportation was rejected in last October.
He was given six weeks to leave voluntarily after he lost at the tribunal, but he gained time by producing a return ticket to Immigration for 25 December, but did not leave. He has now filed an appeal to Ombudsman through his immigration consultant, Tuariki Delamere.
When NewsViews contacted Delamere (a former NZ Minister for Immigration) yesterday, he said “Why would Jodhbir organise a fake Indian driver’s license? He didn’t need it as he has a valid New Zealand license.”
He went on to say, “I suspect that he (Jodhbir) was being set-up by corrupt INZ Indian officers for blackmail/bribery, in conjunction with a corrupt Data Flow investigator. It is, to my mind, the only thing that makes sense.”
While talking to NewsViews this morning, Jodhbir’s wife, Sawreet said in his defence “He has spent last 9 years in NZ working full time. He got NZ licence by passing all required tests and got forklift licence by getting training and certificates from NZ. He got no driving convictions at all in 9 years (and) no criminal history. So, how is his character in question to INZ, just by finding out a 12-year-old Indian licence which is still in debate.”
Moreover, she adds “Jodhbir submitted his Indian licence to NZTA before getting his full NZ licence, so obviously it was accepted by NZTA then…”
Jodhbir’s events started unfolding when he attached a copy of his Indian driver’s licence with his application for a work to residency application in March 2018 while working as a forklift driver at Fonterra.
He subsequently moved into a new job elsewhere as a stores person and withdrew his application.
However, as part of their process, Immigration NZ(INZ) went ahead to get his licence verified through Data Flow, which is contracted to INZ to provide document verification services. In their investigation, Data Flow reported the licence as a forgery. Accordingly, INZ told Jodhbir he had failed ‘good character’ requirements and would be deported.
In the subsequent tribunal hearing also, it was stated “the appellant had used this forged licence to obtain his New Zealand driver’s licence which brought his character into question.”
In his appeal Jodhbir filed a letter from the Amritsar Transport Office saying his licence was legitimate.
On the contrary, Data Flow produced a statement from one Wassan Singh, purportedly a Secretary of District Transport Department, Amritsar, who claimed the letter was fake, and admitted he was influenced to fabricate the online information “under pressure” from Jodhbir. His visa was again denied.
Based upon the documentary evidence, Delamere has, however, filed complaints against two Immigration NZ officers and the investigation company, the Data Flow Group.
According to the documents provided to NewsViews, he believes that Jodhbir “may have been framed by a Wassan Singh, allegedly a Transport Officer for the Indian Ministry of Transport and Highways,” and that “Immigration New Zealand (INZ) appear to have to failed to conduct a proper and competent investigation into this allegation”.
“I do not say that Jodhbir’s Indian license is genuine, because I do not know. But, what I do know is the only verifiable and provable genuine evidence that I have seen is the India national database for drivers’ licenses and checking online that database confirmed Jodhbir’s license details as genuine,” he says.
In his submission to Ombudsman, he has provided documentary evidence to support his stand in defence of his client, Jodhbir.
Delamere also raised a pertinent question: “Why would Wassan Singh admit to a non-India government authority (Data Flow) that he had committed criminal offences? It doesn’t make sense, that he would expose himself to arrest for corruption”.
He also questions “Why is Jodhbir’s driver’s license details still on the national database 9 months after this Wassan Singh person confirmed the details are fake?”
On Delamere’s advice, Jodhbir has also filed a complaint with the Amritsar Police Department (a copy of which is available with NewsViews).
Meanwhile, when asked what will she do if Jodhbir was deported, his wife, Sawreet said,” If he is deported, and knowing he won’t be able to come back, there will not be any point for me to live here by myself leaving Jodhbir in a situation to face. But we (including Jodhbir) don’t want to go.”
Sawreet, who came here initially to study, confirmed to NewsViews of having filed residency for her child and herself last month.
Delamere says a favourable outcome from the Ombudsman is Jodhbir’s only chance of remaining in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, unless the Immigration department hears anything to the contrary from Ombudsman, Jodhbir has to leave, unfortunately.