The Passport Authorities do not have right to decide whether an accused has the right to travel abroad or not. The Magistrate has the powers and jurisdiction to decide the same. -High Court
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday held that the Passport Authorities do not have any right to decide if an accused can travel abroad. The court said that only a Magistrate can decide the same.
The observation came from a division bench presided over by Justice Vidyasagar Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardesai, which heard the writ petition filed by one Samip Rajani, a cabin crew in-charge of Jet Airways.
Rajani, who was booked for rash driving and assaulting an on duty traffic policeman, approached the bench challenging the order of the Passport Authorities. He contended that he had moved an application before the Passport Authorities, seeking renewal of his passport for 10 years. However, the authorities turned down his prayer and instead granted renewal of only one year. The counsel appearing for Rajani, urged the bench to direct the authorities to renew his passport for the next 10 years as his work demanded continuous travelling.
After hearing the submissions, the bench said, “The applicant is a cabin crew in-charge and has to travel throughout the year. It is a common knowledge that in many countries Visa is not granted unless passport is valid till six years.”
“It has to be borne in mind that whenever a criminal complaint is filed against an applicant, the Magistrate has all the powers to impose conditions on his (applicant’s) right to travel abroad,” the bench added.
While allowing the petition, the bench observed, “The Passport Authorities do not have right to decide whether an accused has the right to travel abroad or not. The Magistrate has the powers and jurisdiction to decide the same.”
Citing the verdict of the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi’s case, the bench said, “It is well settled that the right to travel abroad for business is the fundamental right of an individual.”
Accordingly, the bench has directed the Passport Authorities to consider Rajani’s application on merits and as per the provisions of the Passport Act, 1967.