Mehbooba can file appeal on passport rejection: HC

Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday provided liberty to former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to approach the appropriate authority to avail the remedy available in the wake of rejection of passport by the government.

A division bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani was hearing Mehbooba’s appeal against a single judge’s judgment. The single judge had dismissed Mehbooba’s plea on passport after observing that she was refused passport as the police verification report (PVR) received by the Passport Officer did not recommend grant of passport in her favour.

While the court had said it could only direct the authorities to expeditiously consider the case of an individual in the light of the scheme of law governing the subject, it had noted that the authorities concerned had already undertaken the exercise in tune with the mandate of the scheme of law by firstly seeking report from the Police and CID authorities and subsequently by passing the order in tune with such recommendations.

Regional Passport Officer Srinagar had rejected the claim of Mehbooba on the basis of PVR received from Director General of Police CID which did not favour issuance of passport to the former Chief Minister as it was returned as “not recommended”.

She has however remedy of appeal to Joint Secretary Passports/ Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, within 30 days under Section 11 of the Passports Act being the Appellate Authority under the Act.

While providing opportunity to Mehbooba to approach the appropriate authority, the DB said: “On receipt of the appeal, the authority concerned shall consider and decide the same on its merits, strictly under rules, regulations and the provisions of the Act, that too un-influenced by the observations made in the judgment dated 29 March, 2021.”

The directions came after senior advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganie on behalf of Mehbooba told the court that the appellant could avail the remedy available to her under the scheme but because of the certain observations made in the judgment, she was left with no other option but to file the present appeal.

The senior counsel further submitted that the appellant would feel satisfied in case liberty was provided to her for approaching the appropriate authority to avail the proper remedy and the authorities shall consider her plea un-influenced by the observations made in the judgment.

“Needless to state that this Court has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case,” the DB said.

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