Mumbai: In a relief to a leading female labour union leader, the Bombay High Court this week granted her a 'No Objection Certificate' (NOC), allowing her to go for her 'Haj' pilgrimage. This comes after the Passport Authority of India seized her passport for not disclosing the pending criminal cases against her.
A bench of Justice Sambhaji Shinde also quashed a Magistrate's order which refused to grant an NOC to the union leader - Chandbibi Zaidi. She had applied for an NOC before the Magistrate so that she can seek restoration of her seized passport for a limited period i.e. till she returns from her Haj at United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Magistrate, however, turned her plea down stating it has no "jurisdiction or powers" to grant such a relief.
Accordingly, Zaidi petitioned the bench of Justice Shinde claiming that the Magistrate has deliberately infringed her fundamental rights to equality and liberty. She Al's argued that the Magistrate has infringed her right to travel abroad for Umrah.
"The petitioner (Zaidi) is desirous to go to Haj pilgrimage and therefore, asserts her fundamental right to travel abroad for said purpose. She requires her passport which has been impounded by the passport authority," Justice Shinde noted.
The judge further noted that Zaidi was ready to submit her complete itinerary for travel to UAE prior to leaving India. The judge also noted that Zaidi has only sought a limited relief.
"She only seeks an NOC so that, she can apply to the passport authority for restoration of her passport which has been impounded. She did not pray for any direction from this court to direct the authority to issue, re-issue or restore her passport," Justice Shinde noted.
"Thus, taking an overall view of the matter and considering the purpose for which Zaidi intends to go to UAE, this court is of the opinion that, instead of relegating her again back to the Magistrate for obtaining the NOC, it would be appropriate if it is given by this court, as prayed by her," Justice Shinde ruled.
In her plea, Zaidi had relied extensively upon a notification dated issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in August 1993, by which Magistrates were conferred with powers to grant NOCs for applying to restore seized passports.
Accordingly, Zaidi argued that the Magistrate, who refused her an NOC, has shirked away from his responsibility of carrying out his judicial duty, by merely stating that he has no power to issue any directions to the Passport Authority.
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