Pending criminal case not sufficient ground to deny right to apply for passport renewal: Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court recently held that just because a person is under trial in a criminal case, they cannot be denied permission to renew their passport. [Nijal Navin Shah v. State of Maharashtra and Anr]
Justice Amit Borkar held that merely because proceedings under Sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were pending against the applicant, he could not be denied the right to renew his passport.

“In the facts of the case merely because the offence under Sections 406, 420, 120(b) read with 34 of IPC is pending against the applicant, the said fact by itself is not sufficient to deny the right of the applicant for renewal of the passport. There is no material on record to show that the applicant carries flight and risk…The application for renewal of passport needs to be granted,” the Court said.

The applicant applied for permission to renew his passport before a magistrate’s court in Vikhroli. The court rejected it on the grounds that one accused in the case was absconding, and the applicant could tamper with evidence. Hence, he approached the High Court.

The High Court noted that a sessions judge in 2017 had permitted the applicant to fly to the USA and that he had not breached any conditions.

Furthermore, it noted that a sessions judge, while directing the release of the applicant on pre-arrest bail, imposed a condition that he shall not travel abroad without the court’s permission.

Considering the condition, the Bench determined that the investigating agency’s apprehension was uncalled for, as it was taken care of in the pre-arrest bail order.

Therefore, the High Court quashed the magistrate’s order and directed that the applicant’s request for permission be considered afresh without taking into account the offences registered against him.

Advocates Sonal Parab, Tanvi Sawant and Rajeev Sawant appeared for the applicant.

Advocates Yogesh Gandhi and DP Singh appeared for the passport authorities, while Advocate AR Patil represented the State.

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