January 7, 2020.
W. P. No. 24131(W) of 2019
Union of India and others
Mr. Kamalesh Jha,
Ms. Srabani Biswas
… for the petitioner.
Mr. Avinash Kankani
…for the respondent nos. 1,3,4,5 and 7.
Mr. Sakya Sen,
Mr. Shamim ul Bari
…for the State-respondent.
Affidavit-of-service filed in Court today be taken on record.
Heard the respective parties.
The present grievance revolves around a matrimonial dispute between the
petitioner and the respondent no. 10.
It is alleged on behalf of the petitioner that the respondent no. 10, being the
husband of the petitioner, remarried and fled to a foreign country with a person with whom
he committed bigamy and is now outside India.
It is submitted on behalf of the petitioner that a complaint has been specifically
lodged by the petitioner against the respondent no. 10 long back, and charge-sheet has
been filed on the basis of the First Information Report registered against the respondent
no. 10, including the charge of bigamy, as well as offence under Section 498A of the
Indian Penal Code and other allied offences.
However, learned counsel for the petitioner submits, the passport authorities,
despite having assured the petitioner that they have taken steps pursuant to her complaint
for impounding the passport of the respondent no. 10 in view of a warrant of personal
appearance having been issued against the respondent no. 10, the passport authorities
are sitting tight over the matter.
Leaned counsel for the petitioner relies on Section 10(3)(h) of the Passports Act,
1967 to impress upon the court that, in the event it is brought to the notice to the passport
authorities that a warrant of arrest of the holder of the passport or travel document has
been issued by a court under any law, the passport authorities may impound or cause to
be impounded or revoked the passport or travel document of the accused.
Learned counsel appearing for the passport authorities submits that it is the
discretion on the part of the said authorities to impound the passport of the accused
and/or revoke the same or not, even under Clause (h) of sub-Section (3) of Section 10 of
the 1967 Act.
It is further submitted that Clause (h) itself envisages that there can be an order
made by the court on which the passport authorities might act and impound or revoke the
In this context, it is submitted by learned counsel for the passport authorities that
no such order was obtained by the petitioner from the court.
It appears from the annexures to the present writ petition that the petitioner is
justified in submitting that the passport authorities have the power to impound or revoke a
passport or travel document in case of a warrant of arrest/ personal appearance being
issued, and that in the present case, the passport authorities themselves intimated the
petitioner that action has already been initiated against the respondent no. 10 by their
office as per extant guidelines. Subsequently, a show cause notice was also issued to the
respondent no. 10, an answer to which is annexed as Annexure- P/10 at page- 71 of the
instant writ petition.
However, in the event a mandatory direction is given at this premature stage on the
passport authorities to revoke or impound the passport of the respondent no. 10 on the
basis of the allegations made by the petitioner, it can be opening the flood-gate too wide,
since then merely at the drop of a hat, it would be open to the passport authorities and to
other similar authorities to impinge upon the personal liberty of citizens of India.
However, this court ought not to go into such an extent on the merits of the case,
since a mere direction on the passport authorities to intimate the final decision under
Section 10(3)(h) of the 1967 Act to the petitioner would suffice, as the power of
impounding or revocation of passports falls within the discretion of the said authorities.
Accordingly, W. P. No. 24131(W) of 2019 is disposed of by directing the
respondent no. 7 to intimate to the petitioner as to the decision of the said authority on the
application of the petitioner for impounding/revocation of the passport of respondent no.
10, under Section 10(3)(h) of the 1967 Act, within a fortnight from date.
It is made clear that, in the event there is any further grievance of the petitioner
after receiving such communication, it will be open to the petitioner to approach the
appropriate Magistrate for a further order seeking an order of impoundment/revocation
and/or to approach this Court in the event the discretion is not exercised in accordance
with law by the respondent no. 7.
There will be no order as to costs.
Urgent photostat certified copies of this order, if applied for, be made available to
the parties upon compliance with the requisite formalities.
(Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, J.)