“Granted, the Passport Act denies passports to the persons posing danger to the “security” of the nation, does that security include the “economic security”? We will see.”
Holding that the term ‘security’ in Section 6(1) of the Passport Act does not encompass ‘economic security’, the Kerala High Court observed that passport cannot be refused on the ground that it is detrimental to the ‘economic ‘security of India.
Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu was considering the challenge against the action of Regional Passport Officer (RPO) impounding the passport of three persons. The RPO had acted on the Customs Department’s communication: their holding the passport would harm the economic security of the nation.
The bench observed that any provision that affects this fundamental right needs strict interpretation. Interpolation is not one established method of interpretation, especially, of a provision with far-reaching consequences: “economic” is an interpolation before “security”, the court said.
“To reiterate, freedom of movement is a facet of fundamental rights. A citizen’s right to travel can be curtailed only through the procedure established by law. If the right to travel is a part of a person's liberty, that person cannot, according to Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramarathnam, be deprived of his freedom except by due process of law,” Justice Naidu said.
The court also noted that, in Abdul Salam v. National Investigating Agency, a full bench of the high court had held that the term "security" occurring in Section 15 of the U.A. (P) Act “cannot be stretched by interpretative process to include economic security.”
The court then concluded as follows: “True, the RPO can act on any person’s information, and the Customs Department suffers no disqualification to notify the RPO. But that information received, the RPO must act independently. He must ensure that the allegations, taken as true, contravene any of the eventualities spelt out either in Section 6 or Section 10 of the Passport Act. Here, I see the Customs Department’s complaint meeting no ground mentioned in these provisions, for I hold that “security” will not encompass “economic security.”