Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: Exercising its writ jurisdiction, the single judge bench of Pratibha M. Singh J., directed Regional Passport Officer (‘RPO’) in Srinagar to decide the passport renewal application of People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti (‘petitioner’) within 3 months.

In the matter at hand, the petitioner sought an early decision in her appeal under Section 11 of the Passports Act, 1967 (‘Passport Act’) against the order dated 26-03-2021 of the RPO, Srinagar which had refused issuance of passport.

An application was filed by the petitioner seeking a fresh passport, however, the same had not been issued. She was therefore constrained to file a petition before the J&K High Court and during its pendency, an order was passed by the RPO stating that the case of the petitioner was ‘Not Recommended Passport Case’ as per the Police Verification Report.

In the light of the order, the petition filed by her was dismissed vide order dated 29-03-2021, permitting the petitioner to avail remedies under the Passport Act by way of an appeal. The same was challenged by the petitioner before the division bench which too was disposed of vide order dated 09-04-2021.

The appeal was to be decided on merits by the authority under the Passports Act. However, two years had already lapsed without disposing it of since the order of the division bench of J&K High Court. Hence, the present petition with the prayer seeking early disposal of the appeal.

The Central Government Standing Counsel apprised the Court of the order dated 02-03-2023 which had set aside the order dated 26-03-2021 and remanded back the matter to the Passport office for re-examination.

With this observation, the Court disposed of the present appeal stating that since the Appellate Authority under the Passports Act vide order dated 02-03-2023 set aside the 2023 order, the Passport office must take a decision expeditiously within a period of 3 months.

[Mehbooba Mufti v Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 1398, decided on 03-03-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the petitioner- Senior Advocate Prashanto Chandra, Advocate Mr. Prasanna S., Advocate Abhishri, Advocate Swati Arya and Advocate Yuvraj Singh Rathore;

For the Respondent- Central Government Standing Counsel Kirtiman Singh and Advocate Vidhi Jain.

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