The Bombay High Court on Friday quashed a government order asking around 60 Chinese nationals to leave over suspected visa violations, giving an Indian phone parts maker that had invited them two weeks to explain the circumstances of their visit.
The issue has not yet raised diplomatic tensions between the giant neighbours, relations between whom have improved in recent months after a long border standoff last year.
A lawyer for India's Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) told the court that the Chinese individuals were found "working on machines" despite entering the country on business or tourist visas. The FRRO issued a notice to the company earlier this month.
But lawyers for the company, Pacific Cyber Technology, said that the Chinese were customers' representatives, technology transfer experts or represented suppliers. They had long-termvisas and were invited to demonstrate local staff how to work on the machines in its factories in western India.
"Why wasn't a show-cause notice issued to the company before passing the order asking them to leave?" a judge asked the lawyer for the FRRO. "We quash and set aside the order."
Some of the Chinese have left the country but many are still around, the company's lawyers said.
China is a big supplier of technology components to India, as Prime Minister Narendra tries to expand manufacturing under his flagship 'Make in India' programme.