Passport Office has no right to restrict a holder from going

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has held that passport authorities have no right to put restrictions on a passport holder from going abroad.

A division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade was hearing a writ petition, filed by a Jet Airways cabin crew head Sameet Rajani challenging the decision of passport authorities to issue him passport only for a year instead of 10 years stipulated in the Passport Act.

The judges asked the passport authorities to renew the passport of Rajani for 10 years instead of the one year period sanctioned earlier.

The passport should be renewed in accordance with the Passport Act rules, said the bench.

The judges accepted a Supreme Court judgement cited by the petitioner’s lawyer Rupali Rajani which said a passport holder can travel abroad with a business or work purpose as this was his fundamental right.

The passport authorities cannot put any restrictions on a passport holder on his visits abroad as this would be against the Constitution, the high court said while allowing his petition.

Rajani was embroiled in a criminal case in a magistrate court at suburban Mulund. He was facing charges under IPC sections 353 (using criminal force on a public servant from performing duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to public servant), 337 (causing hurt by endangering lives of others) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) read with section 34 (common intention).

He had initially moved the magistrate’s court on renewal of his passport and seeking permission to go abroad frequently in the course of his official duty as he was a cabin crew member.

The magistrate asked him to approach the passport authorities and Rajani followed suit. The passport authorities renewed his passport only for a year. Being aggrieved, he moved the Bombay High Court seeking the passport validity for 10 years instead of one year sanctioned earlier.

The high court bench today directed the Mulund Magistrate to decide Rajani’s application for going abroad while asking the passport authorities to issue a passport to him for a period of 10 years.

The bench held that a passport holder has a right to travel abroad on the strength of a valid passport. It also held that according to rules, a passport can be renewed for 10 years.