Issuance Of Passport Can Be Refused On Ground Of Pendency Of Criminal Appeal Against Acquittal: Telangana & AP HC [Read Judgment]

Issuance Of Passport Can Be Refused On Ground Of Pendency Of Criminal Appeal Against Acquittal: Telangana & AP HC [Read Judgment]

‘If proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant for Passport are pending before the appellate Court; the High Court in this case; that is ground enough for the Passport Officer to be compelled by the opening part of Sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Act to refuse issuance of such Passport.’

The High Court of Telangana & Andhra Pradesh has held that pendency of appeal against acquittal before an appellate court, including a high court, is ground enough for Passport officer to refuse passport.

The division bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice V Ramasubramanian dismissed a writ appeal against single bench order refusing to interfere with Passport Officer’s refusal to issue a passport.

Subhas Chandra Bose Mandava was called upon by the Passport Officer to explain why he suppressed the pendency of a criminal appeal before the high court against an order of acquittal in a criminal case which was charged against him under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Passport Officer also required him to produce order from the high court for processing the application for issuance of a passport. The single bench rejected his plea filed in this regard.

The argument put forth in his defense was that there is no case in which he stands charged with criminal proceedings; nor is there any arrest warrant or summons pending before any court of law in India against him.  It was also contended that there is no foundation to link the criminal appeal since such proceedings do not amount to one being charged with criminal proceeding.

On the other hand, the Assistant Solicitor General submitted that Clause (f) of Section 6(2) of the Passports Act is to the effect that the Passport Authority shall refuse to issue a passport or travel document for visiting any foreign country if the proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending before a criminal court in India.

The bench, dismissing the writ appeal, observed: “Section 384 of the Code provides for summary dismissal of appeal including an appeal against an order of acquittal. Section 385 of the Code provides the procedure for hearing the appeals, not dismissed summarily. It enjoins causing a notice of the time and place at which such appeal will be heard.  In the case in hand, there is such an appeal pending before this Court and the appellant-writ petitioner has been notified of such appeal. The power of the High Court under Section 386 of the Code includes the power in relation to appeal from an order of acquittal. Such power provides for reversal of the order of acquittal and direct that further enquiry to be made, or that the accused be re-tried or committed for trial, as the case may be, or find him guilty and pass sentence on him according to law.  Obviously, therefore, the respondent in an appeal against an order of acquittal is one who should be available to the jurisdiction of the appellate Court, which is in seison (sic) of the appeal against the order of acquittal.  Clause (f) of Section 6(2) of the Act provides an embargo on issuance of a passport if proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending before a Criminal Court in India. The distinction between being charged of an offence and charge being framed in relation to an offence has always been maintained.  See for support Lt. Col. S.K. Kashyap and another vs. State of Rajasthan. The appellate Court, even if it is the High Court, is a Criminal Court when it sits and decides matters in criminal jurisdiction. This is a well-settled principle of law.”

Read the Judgment Here