J&K HC | Denial of passport to Mehbooba Mufti; HC says the scope of Court is limited, it can only direct authorities concerned to expeditiously consider the case

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Ali Mohammad Magrey, J., in a significant judgment dismissed the petition filed by former Chief Minister of J&K, Mehbooba Mufti for seeking directions for issuance of a passport in her favour.

The precise case of the petitioner was that she had submitted an application for issuance of a passport in her favour before the Passport Officer, Regional Passport Office. As per circular instructions issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on this behalf, the passport of an individual is required to be issued within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application, but despite lapse of more than three months, no passport was issued in favour of the petitioner. The petitioner, upon enquiry came to know the status of her application for passport as under: “Pending for physical police verification at respective Thana under SP Office, District Srinagar.” Thereafter, the petitioner approached Senior Superintendent of Police with the request to forward the Police Verification Report (PVR) to the Regional Passport Office, but nothing fruitful had been done in her favour.

The Assistant Solicitor General of India, Tahir Majid Shamsi submitted that the Passport Officer had already sought information from the Additional Director General of Police (CID) in the instant matter. Besides, Counsel for respondents 2, 3 and 5 was directed to expedite the PVR in relation to the case of the petitioner. Subsequently, the PVR was forwarded by the ADG of Police, CID,  to the Regional Passport Officer.  The Passport Officer’s report revealed that:

“Whereas the PVR received from Addl. Director General of Police, J&K-CID do not favour issuance of passport and returned as “NOT RECOMMENDED PASSPORT CASE”. In view of the J&K CID report, your case was found to attract refusal under provisions of section 6(2)(c) of the Passport Act, 1967. In light of the above, your application for issuance of passport is Refused.”

 The respondent argued that the petitioner had the alternate remedy of appeal to Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, against the refusal order within (30) days from the date of receipt of the order under Section 11 of the Passports Act, 1967. It was also pleaded that the petitioner had no absolute right to demand a passport in her favour inasmuch as the passport, being a document that vouches for the respectability of the holder, stands to reason that the Government need not vouch for a person it did not consider worthy.

Considering that the PVR received by the Passport Officer, did not recommend grant of passport in favour of the petitioner, the Bench opined that no direction could be issued by the Court for issuance of passport as the scope of Court in the matter of grant or otherwise of passport is very limited inasmuch as the Court, in this behalf, 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.

Noticing that the respondents had already undertaken the said exercise in tune with the mandate of the scheme of law by, firstly, seeking report from the Police/ CID authorities, and, thereafter, passing the order in tune with such recommendations of the police/ CID authorities. Relying on the decision of Supreme Court in Satwant Singh Sawhney v. Assistant Passport Officer, AIR 1967 SC 1836, the Bench said,  the petitioner had no absolute right to demand a passport in her favour.

 Hence, the petition was dismissed.[Mehbooba Mufti v. Union of India, WP(C) No.382/2021, decided on 29-03-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Sr. Adv. Jahangir Iqbal Ganai with Adv. Humaira Shafi,

For the Respondents: ASGI Tahir Majid Shamsi and Sr. AAG B. A. Dar

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