The Delhi High Court has said that the passport authority cannot impose penalty on a person who has unknowingly produced false information while applying for the document.
The court said that before penalising an applicant it has to be proved that the person has knowingly provided false information while applying for passport.
Justice S Muralidhar passed the order on a petition filed by father of seven-year old Naseem who was asked to pay Rs 1,000 as penalty because he had mentioned Ghaziabad as child's birth place instead of Delhi where he was born.
"What seems to have been missed (by authority) completely is that under the Passports Act imposition of penalty is consequent upon a person knowingly furnishing false information," the court said.
The court asked the passport authority to refund the amount and also imposed a cost of Rs 3,000 on it.
The court came to the conclusion that there was no deliberate attempt by child's father to knowingly provide false information and directed the passport office to put in place proper procedure for imposing penalty.
"The passport office is directed to devise a proper procedure so that no penalty is levied and collected without following a procedure that is consistent with the requirements of natural justice," the court said.