J&K High Court Dismisses Mehbooba Mufti’s Plea For Issuance Of Passport

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday (29th March) dismissed former Chief Minister of J&K & Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti’s plea seeking issuance of passport to her.

Noting that the Court’s scope in the matter of grant or otherwise of passport (in favour of an individual) was very limited, the Bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed,

The Court could only direct the concerned authorities to expeditiously consider the case of an individual in the light of the mandate of the scheme of law governing the subject.”

It may be noted that when the question as to the issuance of a passport in favour of a citizen of India arises, the concerned passport Authority, upon receipt of an application from an individual, has to seek an appropriate report from the Police/ CID authorities concerned.

Further, on the basis of such a report, the Authority has to issue or refuse a passport in favour of the said individual accordingly.

In the instant case, the Court noted,

The respondents already undertook the said exercise by, firstly, seeking a report from the Police/ CID authorities, and, thereafter, passing the order in tune with such recommendations of the police/ CID authorities.

Importantly, the Police Verification Report (PVR) received by the Passport Officer, Srinagar/ respondent No.4 did not recommend grant of passport in favour of Mufti and thus, the passport office had, refused the issuance of a passport in favour of Mufti.

Consequently, in the above background, the Court held,

I do not find any reason to interfere with the course of action adopted by the respondents in this case, as a sequel thereto, the petition of the petitioner is hereby dismissed, alongwith the connected CM(s).”

Background of the matter

On Monday (08th March), the High Court had sought the government’s response on a plea filed by Mufti.

It was contended before the High Court that as per circular instructions issued Ministry of External Affairs Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days but in the instant case, despite a lapse of three months, the passport has not been issued to her.

It was also submitted that she, while availing the tracking facility on the Passport Officer’s website, came to know about the status of the passport as “Pending for physical verification at respective Thana under SP office, District Srinagar.”

Significantly, she stated before the High Court that she approached Respondent No. 5/Sr. Superintendent of Police, on 13th of February, 2021, with the request to forward the police report to the passport office.

In her plea, she had submitted that she had a right to hold a passport in terms of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The delay in issuing a passport in favour of the petitioner is an act that is not in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Passport Act. The delay occasioned in issuing the passport in favour of the petitioner has an effect of imposing restrictions on the rights of the petitioner vested upon her by the Constitution of India, which guarantees her freedom to travel abroad,” the petition reads.

It is essential to state here that right to travel abroad inheres in right to life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India,” the petition reads.

In this backdrop, she had sought directions from the High Court to the respondents to issue a passport in her favour expeditiously. (Agency)

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