9 March 2021 3:05 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday (08th March) sought government's response on a plea filed by the former Chief Minister of J&K & Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti over delay in issuance of passport to her allegedly for want for police verification. The Senior Counsel Jahangir Iqbal Ganai (Counsel appearing for Mufti) submitted before the Bench...
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday (08th March) sought government's response on a plea filed by the former Chief Minister of J&K & Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti over delay in issuance of passport to her allegedly for want for police verification.
The Senior Counsel Jahangir Iqbal Ganai (Counsel appearing for Mufti) submitted before the Bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey that Mufti had applied for a fresh passport in December 2002 as her passport expired on 31st May.
Submissions made before the Court
It was contended before the High Court that as per circular instructions issued Ministry of External Affairs Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days but in the instant case, despite a lapse of three months, the passport has not been issued to her.
It was also submitted that she, while availing the tracking the facility on the Passport Officer's website, came to know about the status of the passport as "Pending for physical verification at respective Thana under SP office, District Srinagar."
Significantly, she stated before the High Court that she approached Respondent No. 5/Sr. Superintendent of Police, on 13th of February, 2021, with the request to forward the police report to the passport office.
However, she alleged, to date, the status of the passport of the petitioner on the available portal of the passport office shows the same status.
In her plea, she also submitted that she has a right to hold a passport in terms of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
"The delay in issuing a passport in favour of the petitioner is an act that is not in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Passport Act. The delay occasioned in issuing the passport in favour of the petitioner has an effect of imposing restrictions on the rights of the petitioner vested upon her by the Constitution of India, which guarantees her freedom to travel abroad," the petition reads.
"It is essential to state here that right to travel abroad inheres in right to life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India," the petition reads.
In this backdrop, she sought directions from the High Court to the respondents to issue a passport in her favour expeditiously.
When asked by the Court, T.M. Shamsi, the ASGI submitted that the Respondent No. 4 (Passport Officer, Srinagar) has already sought information from the Additional Director General of Police (CID), J&K.
Further, having heard the submissions of Mufti's Counsel, the Court issued the notice to MEA, Regional Passport Officer and Additional Director-General Police among others.
Notably, the Court remarked,
"It is made clear the pendency of writ petition shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification."
The matter has been listed for further hearing on 23rd March, 2021.
Case title - Mehbooba Mufti v. Union of India & Ors. [WP (C) No. 382/2021 CM No. 1215/2021]
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