Mere FIR no ground to deny passport: HC

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar, Nov 28: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has held that  mere registration of First Information Report (FIR)  is not a ground good enough to deny the issue or reissue of the passport in favour of an applicant involved in such FIR.

Allowing a plea by  one Rajesh Gupta at Jammu wing of the court, a bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar said that passport or travel documents can be refused, if proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending before a criminal Court in India.

“Mere registration of an FIR or pendency of investigation by the Investigating Agency is no ground to refuse issue or renewal of passport requested by the applicant. At this stage, when FIR alone is registered and investigation is undertaken by the Investigating Agency, there are no proceedings before a criminal Court”, Court said. “The criminal proceedings commence before the competent Court of criminal jurisdiction only when a final report is laid by the investigating agency before the Court or in case of a private complaint when the criminal Court of competent jurisdiction takes cognizance and proceeds in the manner provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure”.

Pointing out that till such eventuality happens “we cannot say  that there are criminal proceedings pending in the Court”, the bench said: “If that be the clear and unequivocal position emerging from the scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure, there is not even an iota of doubt that registration of FIR and the investigation taken thereupon by the investigating agency cannot be said to be the proceedings pending before a criminal Court in India to attract disqualification laid down in Clause (f) of Sub Section (2) of Section 6 of the Passport Act.”

Indisputably, the court said, the right to travel abroad is a facet of personal liberty guaranteed to the citizens of the Country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. “This right can only be curtailed by imposing restrictions as are authorized by law.”

The court said the circular instructions issued by the government of India cannot override the statutory provision of Section 6(2)(f). “The Section has already been interpreted herein above the light of various decisions rendered by various High Courts across the Country. Otherwise also, the circular and office memo relied upon by the respondents (government of India) also speak about proceedings in respect of offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant which are pending before a criminal Court in India and do not contemplate or encompass cases where there is only FIR registered and the same is at the stage of investigation.”

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