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Ashok Kumar Sharma Vs. The Regional Passport Officer and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (11 Jan 2019)

Passport can be denied to a citizen if he is convicted of an offence at any time during period of five years preceding date of application for a passport

MANU/DE/0071/2019

Criminal

The Petitioner has filed the preset petition, impugning an order passed by Respondent no. 1 (Regional Passport Officer) denying the Petitioner's request for re-issuance of the passport. In the impugned order, Respondent no. 1 has referred to a Notification dated 25th August,1993 issued by the Central Government-being GSR No. 570 (E)-and indicated that, the Petitioner's application would be processed only on receipt of an NOC from the concerned Court in terms of the said notification.

An FIR was registered against the Petitioner under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) read with Section 13(2) and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 420, 467, 468 and 471 IPC. The allegation against the Petitioner was that, while posted as the Group General Manager of a public-sector undertaking (TCIL), he had entered into a criminal conspiracy with the co-accused and abused his official position, in the matter of appointment of a fictitious firm as an agent for a project awarded to TCIL by Bhutan Telecom and thereby causing wrongful pecuniary loss to the exchequer.

Respondent no. 3 (CBI) filed a charge-sheet against the Petitioner under the afore-mentioned provisions. The Trial Court took the cognizance of the said charges and commenced trial. During the course of the trial, the term of the Petitioner's passport expired. Accordingly, in May/June, 2014, the Petitioner filed an application seeking no objection from the Trial Court for renewal of his passport. The learned Trial Court acceded to the Petitioner's request and granted the NOC. However, the Petitioner could not complete the formalities for renewal of the passport prior to completion of the trial.

A plain reading of Clauses (e) and (f) of sub-section 2 of Section 6 of the Passports Act indicates that, Clauses (e) and (f) refer to different situations. Clause (f) is applicable only in cases where criminal proceedings are pending in respect of an allegation of an offence. Clearly, the said clause is inapplicable where the criminal proceedings have culminated in a conviction and the offence alleged to have been committed has been established. Plainly, in such circumstances, the offence cannot be described as "alleged to have been committed". Clause (e) of Section 6(2) of the Act relates to a case where an applicant has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude and has been sentenced in respect thereof to an imprisonment for not less than two years. The rigor of Clause (e) is applicable only for a period of five years after such conviction.

In terms of Section 6(2)(e) of the Act, a passport can be denied to a citizen if he is convicted of an offence at any time during the period of five years preceding the date of application for a passport. In the present case, the Petitioner was convicted of an offence on 12th September, 2014 and, thus, any application made during the period of five years from that date-that is, till 11th September, 2019 - can be rejected in terms of Section 6(2)(e) of the Passports Act. The Petitioner would be at liberty to make an application for a passport after the said date under the provisions of Section 6(2)(e) of the Passports Act. If such application is made, the same cannot be denied on the ground as stated under Section 6(2)(e) of the Passports Act. The petition is disposed of.

Tags : PASSPORT   RENEWAL   GRANT  

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