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Passport renewal for 10 years even Section 498-A is pending

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO.1 OF 2019
IN
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.306 OF 2019

Ashok Roopchand Jain … Applicant

Versus

The State of Maharashtra & Ors. … Respondents

Mr.Siddharth Jagushte, Advocate for the Appellant/Applicant. Mr.S.V.Gavand, the Additional Public Prosecutor for the Respondent No.1/State.

Mr.A.R.Verma, Advocate for the Respondent Nos.2 and 3. Mr.D.P.Singh, Advocate for the Respondent No.4.

CORAM : A.M.BADAR J.

DATED : 4th MARCH 2020.

P.C. :
1 This matter pertains to the assignment of the Honouble Shri.Justice Prithviraj K. Chavan, J. However, as His Lordship has passed an Order of not placing the matter before him, as an alternate Bench, the application is placed before this Court by the Registry.

2 The applicant/appellant/convicted accused by this application is praying for issuance of no objection to the application for renewal/re-issuance of passport for a normal full term i.e. for a period of ten years after following due verification by the Passport Authority.

3 Heard the learned Counsel appearing for the applicant. He placed reliance on Judgment of the learned Division Bench of this Court in the matter of Mr.Samip Nitin Ranjani Versus Union of India.1 He also placed reliance on the Judgment of Division Bench of this Court in the matter of Narendra K. Ambwani Versus Union of India and Ors. and submitted that considering the pendency of the appeal filed by the applicant, his passport may be directed to be renewed as per the provisions of Passport Act, 1967 and the Rules framed thereunder.

4 The learned Counsel for the respondent No.4/ Regional Passport Officer submitted that Passport shall be renewed as per directions of this Court.

5 I have also heard the learned Counsel appearing for the contesting respondent as well as the learned Additional Public Prosecutor.

6 The applicant is convicted of the offence punishable under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years and in default to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for one year in Session Case No.123 of 1994. Feeling aggrieved by this judgment and Order of conviction, the applicant herein has filed Criminal Appeal bearing No.306 of 1999, which is already admitted for final hearing. The substantive sentence of imprisonment imposed on the applicant/accused has already been suspended by this Court during pendency of the appeal.

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7 The applicant, on earlier occasion by filing an application bearing No.566 of 2017 had applied for renewal of passport and vide Order dated 23rd October 2018, this Court had permitted the applicant to apply for re-issuance of passport. Accordingly, the passport has been issued in favour of the applicant and now the applicant wants to renew that passport for a normal period of ten years.

8 In the matter of Mr.Samip Nitin Ranjani (supra), the learned Division Bench of this Court has held thus in Paragraphs 4,5 and 6, which read thus :

“4. In our view, the ratio of the judgment of this Court in the case of Narendra Ambwani (supra) would squarely apply to the facts of the present case. The Division Bench of this Court has issued guidelines which are to be followed by the Respondents on the receipt of application for renewal of passport. It is observed in paragraphs 10 and 11 as under :

10. In the circumstances, we propose to issue guidelines to be followed by the Respondents on receipt of the applications for renewal of the passports, in all cases, where the Magistrate’s court has directed that the passport may be renewed as per the “Rules”.
11. Accordingly, we issue the following directions :-
(a)In all cases where the Magistrate’s court directs renewal of the passports under the Rules, the Passport Rules, 1980 shall apply and passports other than for a child aged more than 15 years shall be renewed for a period of ten years or twenty years as the case may be from the date of its issue. All qualifying applicants are entitled to have passport renewed for at least ten years. The Regional Passport Ofice shall renew the passports of such qualifying applicants at least for ten years.

(b) In case where the passports are valid and the applicants hold valid visas on existing passport, the Regional Passport Oficer shall issue the additional booklet to the same passport provided the applicant had obtained permission to travel abroad.

(c)If the learned Magistrate passes an order making the reference to the said Notifcation No.G.S.R. 570(E) dated 26th August, 1993, the passport shall be renewed only for such period that the Magistrate may specify in the order or as otherwise specifed in the said Notifcation where the passport of the applicant is valid for less than one year, the additional booklet may be issued subject to the orders to be obtained in this behalf only of the Magistrate concerned.

5. In the present case, the learned Magistrate has clearly observed that the application for renewal of the passport should be made as per the Act and the Rules framed thereunder. It is not in dispute that the Magistrate has not given a direction that passport should be renewed as per the Notifcation which has been issued under the provisions of Section 6(2)(f) of the Passports Act, 1967.

6. In view of the directions given by this Court in the said judgment, therefore, the Respondents were duty bound to follow the said directions and ought to have renewed the passport for a period of ten years. It has to be borne in mind that whenever a criminal complaint is pending against an applicant, who wishes to travel abroad, the Magistrate alone has a jurisdiction to impose conditions regarding his right to travel abroad. If the Magistrate is satisfed that the Applicant should not be permitted to travel abroad, he can reject his application. However, when an application is made for renewal of passport, the Passport Authorities have to adhere to the provisions of the Act and the Rules framed thereunder. It appears that the Central Government has issued a Notifcation by exercising a power vested in them under section 6(2)(f) of the Passports Act, 1967 and in the said Notifcation, it has been mentioned that the passport can be renewed for a period of one year. There being an ambiguity under the provisions of the Act and the Rules and the Notifcation issued by the Passport Authorities, this Court was pleased to clarify the said ambiguity in the case of Narendra Ambwani (supra). The Passport Authorities do not have the right to decide whether the accused has a right to travel abroad or not and that right is vested in the Magistrate, who can impose condition if an application is made, seeking permission to travel abroad. The Apex Court in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [(1978) 1 SCC 248 : 1978 SCR (2) 621)] has held that the right to travel for the purpose of business and service is a part of a fundamental right, subject to reasonable restrictions, which are imposed by the Act and by the Court. In the present case, the Applicant on account of his service as a Flight Person has to travel abroad continuously and there is no possibility of absconding since he has to return back along with the fight. Taking into consideration the aforesaid facts, we direct the Passport Authorities to renew the passport for a period of 10 years. It is clarifed that, however, the Applicant will have to apply to the Magistrate seeking permission to travel abroad. If such an application is made, the Magistrate may impose such conditions as deem ft and proper.”

9 The appeal filed by the applicant/convicted accused will take its own time for final haring. In the wake of allowing the earlier application as well as in view of the law laid down by the Division Bench of this Court, in the matter of Mr.Samip Nitin Ranjani (supra), the application is disposed of with a direction to the Passport Authority to renew the passport of the applicant as per the provisions of the Passport Act, 1967 and the Rules framed thereunder.

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(A.M.BADAR, J.)

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