Software developer convicted of public indecent act to be deported

Prabhu Karunanidhi appealed the decision in August but it was declined.
Prabhu Karunanidhi appealed the decision in August but it was declined. Photo credit: Getty

A software developer from India who was found guilty of committing an indecent act in public will be deported from New Zealand.

Prabhu Karunanidhi, 36, appealed the decision to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in August but it was declined. 

Karunanidhi travelled to New Zealand in 2012 to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science at Massey University and in 2015 he was granted a resident visa while working as a software developer.

That same year he returned to India to marry his wife, who followed him to New Zealand. 

From December 2016 to March 2017, Karunanidhi was seen on seven separate occasions masturbating in view of people using a public walkway by a stream near his house.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of doing an indecent act in a place to which the public had access and was sentenced to 12 months of intensive supervision and 60 hours of community work.

In April 2019, his wife gave birth and she and their child left New Zealand on the basis that her visitor visa was expiring and they believed the conviction made Karunanidhi ineligible to sponsor his wife for residency.

Karunanidhi returned to India in December for an extended visit when he was served with a Deportation Liability Notice, which stated that he was liable for deportation from New Zealand.

Karunanidhi appealed the deportation. He told the Tribunal he had a conservative upbringing and his family found "everything his wife did unacceptable" including getting up late in the morning, her style of dress, her knowledge of cooking, and the amount of housework she did.

Karunanidhi said he and his wife had a lot of "misunderstandings and differences which kept growing".

"With friction in the relationship and difficulty in establishing physical relations with his wife, he ended up self-pleasuring in the bathroom at their house," the Tribunal's report said.

"Unfortunately, his wife found him doing this and, with all the pressures, his rational judgement became clouded and he ended up doing this in bushes near his house. This led to the criminal charge and his conviction."

Karunanidhi's evidence also outlined his role as co-founder of an online education platform in New Zealand, and if deported he would have to start from scratch on a low income.

He also argued he should be allowed to remain in New Zealand because of his connection to the country, having lived here for eight years, and it would be in the interests of his wife and child.

But the tribunal found that the evidence did not amount to exceptional humanitarian circumstances and the appeal was declined.