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Passport authority shall not act as 'mouthpiece of the CID' JKL High Court

Passport authority shall not act as 'mouthpiece of the CID' JKL High Court

On Saturday, the single judges' bench of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court composed of Justice M A Chowdhary said that the authority shall not act as "mouthpiece of the CID". It ruled that the police verification report could not override Section 6 of the Passport Act of 1967. The court also directed the Passport Officer to reconsider former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's mother's application for passport re-issuance.

Setting aside the orders that denied Mufti's mother, Gulshan Nazir, a passport, the bench ordered that the passport officer reconsider the entire matter and issue new orders within six weeks. The court stated that while the right to travel abroad can be limited by the Passport Officer based on the available information, the authority must always make the decision in accordance with the Passport Act of 1967.
"There appears no ground to refuse issue or renewal of Passport requested by the petitioner. Even, there is not an iota of allegation against the petitioner which may point out to any security concerns. The police verification report formulated by CID CIK cannot override the statutory provisions of Section 6 of the Passport Act 1967," said the court.

Justice Chowdhary noted that the police verification report was written in reference to two cases because both the applications filed by Nazir and her daughter Mufti were heard together, and the Police Verification Report (PVR) remarks were recorded as follows: ‘Passport service not recommended and connected security clearance withheld’. 
However, the court noted that the police verification report had been prepared indicating the security angles for the former Chief Minister's passport clearance, whereas there was "not even an iota of allegation" regarding her mother that could indicate the State's security concerns.

"The only aspect with regard to the petitioner is the reference of investigation by two agencies; Enforcement Directorate and CID CIK with regard to some of the transactions regarding some bank accounts maintained by the petitioner either separately or jointly with Ms. Mehbooba Mufti," said the court.

Deliberating on Subsection (2) of Section 6 of the Passport Act, the bench explained that the provision clearly states that an application for grant of passport renewal shall be refused only on the grounds specified in the Section or if the applicant's departure from India may, or is likely to, be detrimental to India's security. "Atleast Passport Officer should have, in the background of the facts and circumstances, if required, asked the police and CID agency as to whether there is anything adverse against the petitioner. In such a situation without going into the PVR, refusal on part of the Passport Officer simply be termed as non-application of mind," Justice Chowdhary observed.

"The petitioner, who claims to be an octogenarian, in absence of any adverse security report, cannot be deprived of her fundamental right guaranteed to her under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, to travel abroad as an India citizen," ruled the court.

Case Title: Gulshan Nazir Vs Union of India
Citation: WP(C) 1793/2022

Link: https://hcservices.ecourts.gov.in/ecourtindiaHC/cases/display_pdf.php?filename=zDLovBVSUw02H8XukOjXfHl9WFNYiUIwiLxmqzRB%2FbCYpp%2BIkEB6l5Iv1MU7iBDQ&caseno=WP(C)/1793/2022&cCode=2&appFlag=

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