Can Passport Renewal Be Refused on the Ground of Pendency of a Criminal Case? Answers Andhra Pradesh.HC
Recently, The Andhra Pradesh HC answered an important issue that whether the renewal of a passport can be refused on the ground of pendency of a criminal case for trial in a criminal court.
The bench of Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari was dealing with the petition directing the action of respondents as arbitrary in refusing to renew the petitioner’s passport on the ground that FIR u/s 498 A of IPC and 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act was registered against the petitioner.
In this case, The petitioner was issued a Passport to work in a private company in Kuwait and returned to India in 2011 and got married.
Thereafter, he was issued a passport valid up to 21.04.2023. Since the validity of the passport is due to expire, he approached the concerned authorities in Kuwait for renewal of his passport.
He was informed through a letter that he is an accused in FIR registered for the offences punishable under Section 498-A IPC and under Sections 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act which was pending trial in the Court of Principal Junior Civil Judge, Rayachoti and hence he was not recommended for renewal of his passport.
The issue for consideration before the bench was:
Whether Section 6 applies also to the renewal of a passport?
Whether renewal of the passport shall be refused on the ground of pendency of a criminal case for trial in a criminal court in India, in view of Section 6 (2) (f) of the Passport Act?
Whether for renewal of passport the applicant against whom a criminal case is pending for trial in a criminal court in India, has to produce an order from the concerned court, in terms of the notification dated 25.08.1993, so as to be exempted from the operations of Section 6(2)(f) of the Act?
The bench looked into Section 5 of the Passport Act, of 1967 and observed that on receipt of an application under Section 5(1), the Passport authority after making such enquiry, if any, as it may consider necessary, shall, subject to the other provisions of the Act, by order in writing, issue the passport or travel document with endorsement, as per clauses (a) & (b) or shall refuse to issue the passport or travel document or as the case may be, refuse to make on the passport or travel document any endorsement as per clause (c).
High Court noted that the Central Government by means of Notification, granted exemption from the operation of Section 6 (2) (f) of the Passports Act if such an applicant produces order from the Court concerned permitting him to depart from India. In other words, even if the proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant for the passport are pending before the criminal Court in India the passport authority shall not refuse to issue the passport if such applicant produces the order from the Court concerned permitting him to depart from India.
The bench stated that “………………..there is no specific provision for renewal, in the Act. If it is to be considered that Sections 5, 6 (2) of the Passports Act do not apply to the renewal of a passport, then there would be no provision entitling the holder of the passport for its renewal. If renewal is not permitted, then the holder of the passport will have to apply for issue of the passport afresh. If that be the case, Sections 5 & 6 of the Act & Rule 5 with specified forms under the Rules shall again be applicable, consequently, there is no warrant for the view that Section 6 would not apply to an applicant for renewal of passport. In fact, from a combined reading of the Act, Sections 5 & 6 in particular, and the Rule-5 along with the contents of the Forms prescribed, the expression “issue” as used in Section 5 of the Act has been used not only for issuance of the passport for the first time, but also for its renewal………………”
High Court observed that Section 6 (2) (f) would apply in the cases of those applicants and their applications for renewal of the passport shall be rejected. Whereas, those applicants for renewal of the passport in whose cases Section 6 (2) (f) is applicable but they are in India, if they produce an order from the concerned Court in terms of the notification, then their applications for renewal of the passport would not be rejected as they would avail the benefit of the exemption granted by the notification
The bench opined that the applicants seeking renewal of the passport may be in India or maybe outside India, in order to get the renewal, where Section 6 (2) (f) applies, in view of the notification of the Central Government asking for submission of an order from the concerned Court where a criminal case is pending, on furnishing of such order from the Court concerned would be entitled to exemption from the applicability of Section 6 (2) (f) of the Act.
In the end, the High Court stated that “………………….while considering the renewal of the passport, the passport authority would be within its jurisdiction and authority to refuse renewal, on the same grounds as in the cases of issuance of the passport for “the first time”, provided by Section 6 (2) of the Passport Act. In other words, Section 6 (2) of the Passport Act applies to the renewal of the passport, as well……………..”
Further, the bench opined that in the cases for renewal, to which Section 6 (2) (f) of the Passports Act is attracted, i.e., where the applicant is facing criminal trial in a criminal Court in India, renewal of the passport shall be refused, subject to the fulfilment of the condition under the notification of the Central Government, dated 25.08.1993, issued in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 22 of the Passports Act, upon which such applicant shall stand exempted from the operation of the provisions of Clause (f) of sub-section (2) of Section 6.
In view of the above, the High Court rejected the petition.
Case Title: Kadar Valli Shaik v. The Union of India
Bench: Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari
Case No.: WRIT PETITION Nos. 1392 & 2896 of 2023 & 38869 of 2022
Counsel for the petitioner: Sri P. Sree Ramulu Naidu