A single judge bench of Karnataka High Court held as follows:
From Para 4,
4. The present case concerns an application made by the petitioner before the trial Court seeking release of his passport on the ground that the son of the petitioner studies in a school at Paris – Sports Etudes Concept and was attending classes virtually. Since classes have now started physically, the
petitioner wanted to accompany his son for getting him admitted in the school. This application is rejected by the trial Court. It is the rejection of the application that is called in question in the present proceedings. Therefore, these proceedings concern with the rejection of release of passport of the petitioner and not any other issue that is pending in plethora of cases between the parties.
6. Learned senior counsel Sri Ashok Haranahalli would submit that several proceedings between the parties are pending consideration. The Apex Court has stayed all further proceedings in other cases. The case at hand is not an offshoot of those cases, but an independent case of an application, where the passport of the petitioner is seized, not impounded by the police and there is grave urgency for the petitioner to leave the country and get his son admitted to the school at France.
17. It is not in dispute that the petitioner is facing criminal proceedings before the competent criminal Court and the Police after investigation have also filed charge sheet in the matter in which, the petitioner is arrayed as Accused No.10. Therefore, it is not a case where the passport of the petitioner cannot even be seized or impounded, but, by whom is the question.
18. The Passport Act is a special enactment and is trite that it being a special enactment would prevail over Section 102 or Section 104 of the Cr.P.C., which empower the Police to seize and the Court to impound any document. Impounding of any document produced before the Court cannot stretch to an extent that it can impound the passport. Therefore, the deposit of passport before the Court or passport being held before the Police, both will become without authority of law. The further observation of the Court that it would be in its custody till conclusion of trial is, clearly on the face of it, without authority of law, as it would amount to impounding the passport. This very issue fell for consideration before the Apex Court in the case of SURESH NANDA v. CBI
The Apex Court dealt with the very issue as to who would be the Authority to impound the passport. The Apex Court holds that neither the Police nor the Court invoking powers under Section 102 or Section 104 of the Cr.P.C. can seize or impound a passport. Impounding of a passport is by the Authority vested under the Act as depicted therein. It is not in dispute that the Authority under the Act is not even made aware of seizure or retention of the passport by the Police or before the Court.
From Para 24,
Praveen Surendiran Vs State of Karnataka and Anr on 21 Mar 2022
21. The power of impounding a document under Section 104 of the Cr.P.C. is available to a Court. This cannot stretch to an extent of impounding the passport. The passport coming within the purview of the Act and it being a special law would prevail over the provisions of Section 104 of the Cr.P.C. The Court can impound any document, but not the passport as it is dealt with under a special enactment. The power of impounding is available only to the Competent Authority under the Act, in terms of Section 10 of the Act. Wherefore, the order rejecting the release of passport by the Court observing that it is held in safe custody till the conclusion of the trial is unsustainable. Therefore, the petitioner becomes entitled for release of passport in his favour, as right to hold a passport and travel is, without doubt, held to be a fundamental right in plethora of judgments.