The Karnataka High Court has said that section 6(2)(f) of the Passport Act, by which Passport Authority can refuse issuing a fresh passport to a person against whom criminal case is pending in India, will not apply in cases where the applicant is seeking renewal of his passport.
A bench of Justice Hemant Chandanagoudar said "A reading of Section 6(2)(f) of the Passport Act indicates that, the passport authority shall refuse to issue a passport or travel document for visiting any foreign country, if a criminal proceeding is pending against the applicant in India. However, the said provision does not provide for refusing to issue a passport for a person who intends to travel back to India. Hence, reading of this provision clearly indicates that it is applicable only for issuing a fresh passport and not for renewal of passport."
The court even rejected the submission made by the Assistant Solicitor General C. Shashikanth that a written permission of the jurisdictional Magistrate is required for renewal of the passport, as provided in the Notification bearing No.G.S.R 570 (E) dated 25.8.1993, issued by the Ministry External Affairs, Government of India.
To which the court said "The said notification applies to an applicant who intends to travel abroad against whom a criminal case is pending. In the instant case, petitioner is seeking for renewal for his passport, therefore, said request cannot be rejected by taking shelter under Section 6(2)(f) of the Act and Notification bearing No.G.S.R 570 (E) dated 25.8.1993 issued by the Ministry External Affairs, Government of India."
Case of the petitioner:
The petitioner, Krishna Chiranjeevi Rao Palukuri Venkata, had approached the court seeking directions to the authorities to allow his application dated January 22, for renewal of his passport.
He stated that in 2006, he relocated to the USA as an ERP consultant and since then residing there along with his family on an H1B visa. On 22.1.2020, he applied for renewal of his passport through his travel agency before the Indian Consulate, New York, USA. On 18.5.2020, the petitioner sent an email to the Indian Consulate, New York USA informing that his passport was due to expire on 6.7.2020 and followed it up with several requests to renew his passport.
On 17.6.2020, he received an email from respondent No.3 (REGIONAL PASSPORT OFFICE ) stating that a letter has been received from respondent No.4 (CBI) informing that a criminal case has been registered against the petitioner.
The court refused to accept the ASG's submission that the petitioner can obtain an Emergency Certificate to travel to India. It said "The petitioner's passport has not been refused or impounded or revoked, the Rules providing for obtaining an Emergency Certificate is not applicable to him."
The court added "The petitioners' right to travel cannot be curtailed on the pretext that a criminal case is pending against him by refusing to renew his passport."
The court, while allowing the petition, took into account that respondents have not produced any document to establish that the petitioner was served with summons issued by the Jurisdictional Magistrate or having been issued with any notices by the Authorities informing him about the pendency of a criminal case against him.
Accordingly the court passed the following order:
Respondents 1 to 3 keeping in view the observations made in this order are hereby directed to renew the Petitioner's passport bearing No. No.J2032048 for a period of nine months from the date of renewal subject to the condition that petitioner furnishes bank guarantee for a sum of Rs.5,00,000.
iii) Petitioner is hereby directed to enter appearance in C.C.No.1503/2019 (RCNo.2(E)/2005 pending before the Hon'ble XXI Additional Chief Metropolitan, Magistrate, Hyderabad within six months from the date of renewal of his passport failing which the Respondents 1 to 3 are at liberty to cancel the renewal of passport of the Petitioner and also encash the bank guarantee furnished by the Petitioner.
Cause Title: KRISHNA CHIRANJEEVI RAO PALUKURI VENKATA And THE UNION OF INDIA
Case NO: WRIT PETITION NO.9141/2020 (GM-PASS)
Date of Order: October 1, 2020
Coram: JUSTICE HEMANT CHANDANGOUDAR
Advocate LOMESH KIRAN N for petitioner.
ASG C. SHASHIKANTH, FOR R-1 TO R-3;
Advocate P. PRASANNA KUMAR, FOR R-4 AND R-5)
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