Lawyer calls for court to decide fate of Indian students

One of the Indian students facing deportation over visa irregularities has been detained by police and could be on a plane back home in three days.

But the lawyer representing the group says the fate of the men should be decided by an independent judge.

After nine days of defying an order to leave the country, the reality is setting in that it could all be coming to an end.

"I feel so bad as a New Zealander to think that we could be so unfair to people who have done everything the right way, but are nevertheless being forced to leave," says supporter Betty Marshall.

One of their friends was taken from his home on Wednesday morning - he's now being held in a police cell.

"They are going to need to find his passport and his belongings and their plan will be to try and get him on a plane within three days," says immigration lawyer Alastair McCymont.

The remaining students expected the same fate.

"We are very scared about these immigration people so they will come and pick us in a very cruel way," says a student named Reddy.

Reddy says he hasn't even been able to tell his parents of his plight.

"If I told them - they start screaming. That's why I didn't tell them because they spent their lifetime money on me," he says.

Since May last year, 191 Indian students have been served deportation notices.

Most have already left the country - but this group says they had no idea foreign agents falsified documents on their visas.

The students say they're being made an example of by the Government but that the real culprits are the fraudulent education agents and the Kiwi-run schools that are benefiting through fees paid by the students.

Another student named Manoj says he was months into his studies before the authorities realised there were issues with his paperwork.

They want a chance to prove their innocence in court.

"I would like the Minister [Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse] to intervene immediately, ask his charges to consider laying charges and allow the students to stay and defend those charges before an independent judge," Mr McClymont says.

But the Government says no way.

It's clear however that the Minister feels uncomfortable about his officials storming the church where the group sought sanctuary.

"It's a place of faith, a place of worship - that would probably be inappropriate," says Mr Woodhouse.

"But as I say, that would probably be Immigration NZ's call."

So it's a standoff. Immigration New Zealand hoping the remaining students will leave voluntarily - but the students themselves have no intention of doing that.