THE article written by Vaiju Naravane ("Sans mercy", June 15) scathingly questions the policy of France, and more particularly, the practices of the French Embassy regarding the delivery of visas.
These implications bring forth the following observations from my side.
1. Regarding the statement according to which "the French Consulate in New Delhi now tells anyone who is granted a visitor's visa that they have to report to the mission on their return: non-compliance would make the probability of a future visa zero".
In the first place, it should be recalled that the visa policy applied by this Embassy falls within the framework of the government's policy of vigilance and maintenance of law and order. In this regard, the prevention of illegal immigration, in all the countries of the world (and the Indian authorities also apply checks on their borders) is a constant responsibility of the state and its external departments, which includes consulates and consular sections.
Secondly, I have noted that the checks, which are indeed conducted on the return of some of the visa recipients, are applied only on an extremely limited number of travellers (on verification, three cases per day out of the 350 visas issued daily by our consular section in Delhi, that is, approximately 1 per cent). These "checks on return" apply only to the visa-seekers whose in-depth examination of their files leads to a doubt on the real intention of their travel and thus a suspicion of illegal immigration. If we do not apply this "a posteriori" method of monitoring, the actual issuance of visa would be simply impossible "a priori" and would lead to a pure and simple refusal of visa, which is precisely what we wish to avoid.
Thirdly, while these checks are also the most certain method, enabling us to ensure that the concerned persons have returned to India, they also allow us to issue them a new visa when they reapply at the Embassy. There is thus a "virtuous circle" of checking on return, these checks regarding which I would like to again highlight the fact that they are applied to a very restricted number of actual cases, thus strengthening the trust.
2. Regarding the personal case of "a young Indian couple (M and N - their names cannot be revealed for fear of repercussions)... " described in detail by Ms. Naravane in her article, I would like to clarify that it does not correspond to any case known to this Embassy as per our records. This strange administrative odyssey, abounding in various twists and turns, seems entirely questionable to me; it represents a borderline case, an aberration, which proves nothing regarding the good (or bad) administration of common law procedures applicable to ordinary situations. Therefore I do not think that a reader of this article will be able to draw any lesson on the manner by which this Embassy exercises the procedures applicable in the area of civil status and family law.Dominique Girard Ambassador of France