Heard Sri A. Ravinder Reddy for the petitioner and Sri T. Venkat Raju Goud for the respondent and with their consent this writ petition is decided at this stage.
This writ petition has been instituted seeking a writ of mandamus for declaring the action of the sole respondent – Regional Passport Officer, Hyderabad at Secunderabad, in not renewing / reissuing the Passport of the writ petitioner, as bad in law.
The facts relevant for our purpose are in a narrow compass. The writ petitioner has secured her Post Graduate degree in Education from Osmania University and sought to further prosecute her education and for that purpose solicited admission in the prestigious University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. She has now been granted admission for M.Phil. course by the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and she has also been awarded 100% fee concession scholarship by the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. The writ petitioner holds an Indian Passport bearing No.E-6330819, which was valid up to
11-10-2009 only. However, against the writ petitioner a crime was registered by the Kushaiguda Police Station, in Crime No.490 of 2008. The writ petitioner has moved a quash-petition against the said registration of crime against her by instituting Criminal Petition No.3008 of 2010. This Court had admitted the said criminal petition on 17-08-2010 and also ordered interim stay of further proceedings. The writ petitioner, it is now brought to my notice by the learned counsel, has moved Criminal Miscellaneous Petition No.8315 of 2010 in the aforementioned criminal petition and this Court passed an order on 08-09-2010, granting permission to depart for United Kingdom for the period from September 2010 to 31-10-2011, for pursuing M.Phil. course in the University of Cambridge, on her executing a personal bond in a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh only) with two sureties each for the like sum and that the writ petitioner would also furnish an undertaking to the effect that she will return to India on or before the said date and appear before the Court in which the criminal case is pending against her, in case such a requirement arises any time during this period. The learned counsel for the writ petitioner has also pointed out that the writ petitioner has since complied with these two conditions of furnishing the necessary security bond and also furnish an undertaking to appear in the criminal case, should such a necessity arise, at any time prior to 31-10-2011.
Therefore, the short question that falls for consideration is whether her Passport deserves to be renewed / reissued or not.
For the purpose of regulating the exercise of issuance of the Passports / Travel Documents, etcetera, the Parliament enacted the Indian Passport Act, 1967 – Act No.15 of 1967 (henceforth referred to as ‘the Act’). Section 3 of the Act mandates that no person shall depart from, or attempt to depart from India, unless he holds in this behalf a valid passport or travel document. Section 5 deals with the manner of application for securing the Passport and the method of dealing with the same. Section 6 of the Act laid down the conditions, subject to which the Passport Issuing Authority can refuse to make an endorsement for visiting any country or refuse to issue a Passport or Travel Document for visiting any foreign country. It is significant to notice that Clause (f) of Sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Act, makes it clear that the Passport Issuing Authority shall refuse to issue a Passport or a Travel Document for visiting any foreign country to a person against whom proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by him are pending before a criminal court in India. Therefore, the writ petitioner has a genuine apprehension that her request for re-issuance / renewal or revalidating her Passport, by the Passport Issuing Authority, will not be acceded to.
However, recognizing the fact that right to travel abroad forms an important facet of right to life, guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution, the Government of India in their Ministry of External Affairs has published notification through their G.S.R.No.570(E), dated 25-08-1993, in exercise of the power available to them in terms of Clause (a) of Section 22 of the Act, prescribing the conditions subject to which a Passport or a Travel Document can be issued in respect of persons, who are alleged to have been involved in any offence pending in a criminal court in India. It is significant to note that in Clause (a) (iii) of the said notification in G.S.R.No.570(E), dated 25-08-1993, it is clarified that if a competent Court gives permission to any person to travel abroad for less than one year period, but not specifying the period of validity of the Passport, the Passport shall be issued for a period of one year only. Clause (iv) further says that if the order gives permission to travel abroad for a period exceeding one year, but does not specify the validity period of the Passport, then the Passport shall be issued for the period of travel abroad as specified in the Court order.
In the instant case, as was already noticed supra, this Court passed an order on 08-09-2010 in Crl.M.P.No.8315 of 2010 in Crl.P.No.3008 of 2010, setting out that the present petitioner is permitted to travel to United Kingdom for a period of more than one year, but ending by 30-10-2011. Therefore, to the case of the writ petitioner, Clause (iv) contained in notification G.S.R.No.570 (E), dated 25-08-1993, is attracted. The writ petitioner is entitled to be issued Passport, which can be valid for a period of more than one year from now or, at any rate, valid up to 31-10-2011, by the Regional Passport Officer, Hyderabad.
Since, the writ petitioner has already been accorded admission by a leading University in United Kingdom, and every endeavor should be made to ensure that she does not miss the deadline for reporting at the said University, it is only appropriate that the Passport Issuing Authority, shall issue a fresh Passport or renew the existing one appropriately, so that it’s validity period shall not expire any time prior to 31-10-2011. It is further appropriate that the Passport, now to be issued, may be issued to the writ petitioner within a maximum period of ten days from the date of production of a copy of this Order, or such other shorter duration, as is practicable. The writ petitioner is also directed to make available a copy of the order passed by this Court on 08-09-2010 in Crl.M.P.No.8315 of 2010 in Crl.P.No.3008 of 2010, to the respondent Passport Officer.
With this, the writ petition stands allowed. No costs.