The Supreme Court has reiterated that the Enforcement Directorate has no right to impound the passport and the same can only be impounded by the Passport Authorities.
The Court was considering the appeal filed by the Enforcement Directorate against the Bombay High Court order upholding the order of Special Judge who directed it to return of Passport, Resident permit, PAN Card of Ashok Ramchander Chugani. The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Indira Banerjee said:
"In view of the decision of this Court in Suresh Nanda v. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2008) 3 SCC 674, in which this Court has laid down that Enforcement Directorate has no right to impound the passport, it can only be impounded by the concerned Passport Authorities. As such we are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order."
Additional Solicitor General of India Aman Lekhi urged the Court to impose conditions upon him that he may not leave the country till the conclusion of the cases in view of the fact that he is a Dutch National and two cases of serious kind of offences are pending against him.
The Court though restrained him from travelling abroad for a period of two months, observed that the ED may move the Trial Court for imposition of appropriate conditions that Trial Court
In Suresh Nanda, the issue considered by the Court was whether the police, which has the power to seize a passport under Section 102(1) Cr.P.C, have the power to impound the same? Answering the issue in the negative, it was held that the impounding of a passport can only be done by the passport authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act, 1967. It was observed thus: "Hence, while the police may have power to seize a passport under Section 102 Cr.P.C. if it is permissible within the authority given under Section 102 of Cr.P.C., it does not have power to retain or impound the same, because that can only be done by the passport authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act. Hence, if the police seizes a passport (which it has power to do under Section 102 Cr.P.C.), thereafter the police must send it along with a letter to the passport authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one of the reasons mentioned in Section 10(3) of the Act. It is thereafter the passport authority to decide whether to impound the passport or not. Since impounding of a passport has civil consequences, the passport authority must give an opportunity of hearing to the person concerned before impounding his passport."
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