HC: Passport renewal can’t be denied if applicant barred from leaving country
The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that passport authorities can’t refuse renewal of the travel document on the ground that the person has been barred from leaving the country.
The high court was dealing with a case of denial of renewal of passport by Regional Passport Office, Amritsar, in the case of one Harjit Singh Chadha.
The passport authorities had argued that Section 6(2) (g) of the Passports Act, 1967, prohibits the renewal of a passport when a competent court has restrained a person from travelling abroad.
The bench of justice Sudhir Mittal observed that the clause cited by the passport authorities entitles the passport authority to refuse a passport or travel document in case a court prohibits the departure of the applicant from India. However, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) order being cited by the authorities in the case in hand passed in June 2019 does not prohibit the petitioners from leaving India. The order only restrains them from leaving the country without prior information. Thus, the clause does not get attracted in this case, the court added.
“…there can be no apprehension of petitioner No.1 escaping his prosecution in India. Every citizen of the country is entitled to a passport and Articles 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India give every citizen the Fundamental Right to travel,” the court observed.
The passport had expired in September 2019. In a loan dispute case, proceedings against Chadha stood initiated before the DRT. It was in these proceedings that the DRT had passed an order restraining the petitioner from leaving the country without prior information to the court. The bank was also directed to ensure compliance by sending the order to the passport officer concerned. In 2018, an FIR too got registered against him in which he was a co- accused but, in that case also, the court had given permission for release of his passport for renewal and deposit it after the process is completed. But authorities had refused to renew the passport in view of restrictions on his travel.