Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bhakru, J., set aside an order whereby the petitioner’s passport was impounded and gave him liberty to travel abroad subject to compliance with the conditions imposed.

The petitioner was facing criminal charges under Section 120-B read with Section 420 IPC along with Section 13(2) and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. A charge-sheet was filed by the CBI and cognizance was taken by the Special Judge, after which the petitioner applied for regular bail. The bail was granted and the petitioner was called upon to surrender his passport to the Court concerned. Complying with the same, the petitioner deposited his passport with the Special Judge. Subsequently, he filed an application to travel abroad which was allowed subject to conditions imposed. Meanwhile, the Regional Passport Officer, vide the impugned order, impounded his passport under Section 10(3)(e) of the Passports Act, 1967. The petitioner preferred an appeal under Section 11 against the said order, however, it was dismissed by Chief Passport Officer. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the present petition.

After discussing its earlier decision in Manish Kumar Mittal v. Chief Passport Officer, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 3007, the High Court was of the view that: in the given facts of the present case, impounding the passport is not warranted considering that the petitioner had already been called upon to deposit the same with the concerned Court. Further, the permission has already been granted  to the petitioner to travel overseas.” In such a view, the Court set aside the order whereby the petitioner’s passport was impounded. He was given liberty to travel abroad, subject to compliance with the conditions imposed.[Vinod Kumar Asthana v. Chief Passport Officer, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8138, dated 16-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Allowing the petition wherein the petitioner had sought reissuance of her daughter’s passport without insisting upon the father’s name being mentioned in the application form, the Bench of  Manmohan, J. held that “mother’s name is sufficient in certain cases like the present one to apply for passport, especially as a single woman can be a natural guardian and also a parent”.

The petitioner had contended that after her divorce, she had raised her daughter as a single parent since her birth on August 24, 1997 as the biological father had completely abdicated his responsibilities towards her daughter. The respondents’ insistence upon her daughter mentioning her father’s name in the application violated her rights to determine her name and identity. She pointed out that the entire record of Petitioner 2 (daugther) which included her educational certificates and aadhar card, etc. did not bear the name of her father. She submitted that if the directions sought for in the present petition are not issued,  her daughter would be compelled to alter her identity that she had been using since her birth as daughter of Petitioner 1 rather than of her biological father. According to her, through the malafide, arbitrary and discriminatory decision of the respondents, Petitioner 2 was being compelled to mention the name of her biological father who had refused to accept her because she is a female child. She emphasised that the respondents had originally in the year 2005 and subsequently in 2011 issued a passport without insisting upon Petitioner 2’s father.

The Court was of the opinion that “the respondents can insist upon the name of the biological father in the passport only if it is a requirement in law, like standing instructions, manuals etc. In the absence of any provision making it mandatory to mention the name of one’s biological father in the passport, the respondents cannot insist upon the same. In the present case, there is no legal requirement for insisting upon the father’s name”.

As regards the respondent’s contention that the computer does not accept the application form without the name of the father being filled up, the Court was informed by the learned Amicus Curiae Shri Amit Bansal that the online passport application as updated on 29th January, 2016 provides that in the column of Family Details, only one detail out of the details of father/mother/legal guardian, is mandatory and required to be filled. The Court observed that technology is intended to ease and facilitate transactions and cannot be the basis for creating and defeating anybody’s legal rights. If the only impediment, in way of granting the relief sought by the petitioners, is the software, the same ought to be suitably modified to accept the application of Petitioner 2, if she is otherwise entitled for re-issuance of the passport.

The Court observed that the fact that the respondents had on previous two occasions, in 2005 and 2011 issued passport to Petitioner 2, without insisting on father’s name, makes it evident that the said requirement is not a legal necessity, but only a procedural formality, which cannot be the basis of rejecting her case. Consequently, legally and factually there was no impediment in issuing the passport to Petitioner 2, without mentioning her father’s name. The respondents were directed to modify their software and accept her application and issue her a passport without insisting upon mentioning her father’s name. [Shalu Nigam v. Regional Passport Officer, Writ Petition (C) No. 155 of 2016 and CM Appls. Nos. 684-685 of 2016, decided on May 17, 2016]

High Courts

Kerala High Court: In a recent case where respondent authorities illegally seized the passport of the dependants (wife and children) of victim of human trafficking in USA and denied them to travel to America, a bench of A.V.R. Pillai J, held that the denial of the same is not only violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioners but also detrimental to the very concept of right, duties and obligations in matrimonial living of spouses.

The counsel for the petitioner M.P. Ramnath contended that when the petitioners are having due visas granted by the Government of USA and when there is nothing illegal about the petitioners duly traveling to USA to join their husband /father (victim of human trafficking in USA), it is absolutely illegal and baseless to restrain the petitioners to travel to USA. The counsel for the respondent N. Nagaresh contended that if the petitioners are permitted to go abroad, it would be against the provisions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, 2000 passed by USA.

The Court observed that the Government of USA has granted proper visa to the petitioners to join their husband/father, and that the petitioners are not involved in any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation and are not the violators of the laws/ norms/ sovereignty and integrity of the country. The Court noted that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves eligibility for grant of T-visa to a victim of severe form of trafficking and dependents only after detailed procedures, verification, adjudication and evaluation of independent evidence.

The Court found that in the instant case there is no violation of the provisions of Passport Act, 1967, and accordingly held that restraint of petitioners holding a valid T2 and T3 visa from traveling abroad to join husband/father who is duly employed therein is not only violation of the fundamental right of the petitioners but also detrimental to psychological growth and development of the spouse and children. The Court directed the respondents to permit and enable the petitioners to travel to USA.

A trafficking visa (T-visa) is a type of visa allowing certain victims of human trafficking and immediate family members to remain and work temporarily in the United States, if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators. Mary Redi Kottunkal Joy v. Bureau of Immigration, 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 940, decided on 04-03-2015