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Judiciary

Fundamental right to hold passport can’t be curtailed without due procedure of law: Andhra Pradesh HC [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam Biju      29 December, 2023 05:16 PM      0 Comments

AMARAVATI: The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently came to the rescue of a Non-resident of India whose passport was illegally seized by the authorities. 

While ordering the return of his passport, Justice BS Bhanumathi noted that procedure as mandated under Sections 91 and 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was not followed by the Superintendent of Police and the Inspector of Police. 

“As can be understood from the submissions on both sides, the seizure of the passport is not authorized nor was the procedure contemplated under Sections 91 and 102 of Cr.P.C. followed. Therefore, the continuation of holding the passport with respondents No. 3 and 4 is not legally sustainable,” the Court held.

The petitioner, a member of Telugu Desam Party (T.D.P) and a vocal critic of incumbent State Government, utilised social media to post videos against the latter. So, several cases were registered against him in the State of Andhra Pradesh. When he arrived at the Shamshabad International Airport at Hyderabad, he was detained by the immigration authorities; they informed him that a Look Out Circular is pending against him and therefore, they need to handover him to the Andhra Pradesh State Police. 

A team of CB-CID Police Officers took up the petitioner from the Shamshabad Police Station and took him to CID Regional Office, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, in execution of LOC, in relation to a crime registered against him. While releasing him, the authorities did not return his passport even after repeated persuasions. 

The petitioner had applied for visa stamping and the date was scheduled as December 26, 2023. If this date is defaulted, then he would have to apply for seeking another date and the slots for visa stamping for the next three months are unavailable. If so, then he would be deprived of travelling abroad and consequential discharge of his official obligations, the Court was told. 

The passport has been seized in contravention of the existing laws in operation and such an exercise is unwarranted and is in violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner argued. The Court found merit in these submissions. 

“The fact that the petitioner has applied for renewal of the visa stamping and a date being allotted today is not in dispute. Therefore, the passport is very much required to the petitioner and without following due procedure of law, his fundamental right to hold his passport cannot be curtailed,” the High Court said while ordering to return his passport.

[Read Order]



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