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Kerala High Court: The Bench of Devan Ramachandran, J. allowed a petition for consideration of passport application a person entangled in a criminal proceeding.

Petitioner’s case was that the 2nd respondent (Regional Passport Officer) was refusing to issue passport to him in spite of his valid application, for no tenable reasons. Thus, the instant petition was filed praying that 2nd respondent be directed to issue him the passport. It was, submitted that though there was a criminal case pending against him, but he had already obtained clearance from the competent criminal court to travel abroad.

Counsel appearing for the 2nd respondent submitted that the petitioner was, in fact, issued with a notice asking him to clarify in person as to why he had suppressed the pendency of the criminal case, while applying for passport. It was also contended that petitioner was liable to pay compounding fee under Section 12 of the Passports Act, 1967 for concealing the said fact, and that if he was willing to pay the said fee, and appear before the Passport Authority, his application would be considered in terms of the law.

Petitioner submitted that he was willing to pay the compounding fee and to appear before the competent authority. However, he requested that the process of consideration of his application be directed to be completed within a period of one month.

In view of the above, the Court directed petitioner to appear before the 2nd respondent in terms of show cause notice issued to him, and to pay the compounding fee; and to further clarify in writing, as to why he had not brought the information regarding the pendency of the criminal case to their notice. The Passport Authority was directed to consider petitioner’s application and take an appropriate decision thereon, within a period of one month.[Muhammad Alfas v. Sub Inspector of Police, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 756, Order dated 01-03-2019]