Single judge bench of Delhi High Court held that without giving any opportunity to the Petitioner, the Passport Office cannot suspend, impound a passport.
From Paras 11, 12 and 13,
Akshay Vinod Kulkarni Vs Chief Passport Officer and Anr on 03 May 2021
11. In the opinion of this court, the shocking part of the present case is that, despite long drawn correspondence the Respondents have not served the passport suspension order or the denial order to the Petitioner. He was shuttled between the RPO-Kozhikode who informed him that it was the Indian Mission in Houston which revoked his passport. It is not even the case of the Respondents that the Petitioner was heard. The passport of the petitioner has been suspended on the basis of a complaint by the wife due to matrimonial disputes for more than two and half years. The correspondence on record reveals that the Petitioner has repeatedly approached various authorities seeking revival of his passport as also for a copy of the denial order, but in vain. Even before this court the Respondents have not filed any affidavit or document on record till date, despite having more than five months to do so. The Indian Mission or the other authorities have not filed a single document to show whether it is a case of revocation of passport or suspension of passport and if so on what grounds was the action taken. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Petitioner has been unable to travel to India. It is the case of the Petitioner that his old mother, who is a widow, lives alone in Bangalore and that he wishes to travel both in the U.S.A. and in India, in relation to his job assignments. It is clear that the Petitioner is suffering immensely both personally and professionally due to the suspension/revocation of his passport. The Petitioner’s appeal has also now been dismissed, without the said orders being made available to him. The submission is that even if the suspension order is stayed, the passport does not come back into operation.
12. In the order in appeal dated 8th May, 2020, which is under challenge in the present petition, the Appellate Forum proceeds on the basis that since the email dated 5th November, 2018 was sent to the Petitioner, it is presumed that the Petitioner was aware of the suspension of his passport. Such a conclusion cannot be arrived at unless and until, the Respondent establishes on record that proper notice was issued and a reply was called for and the Petitioner did not respond to the same.
13. Ld. Counsel for the Respondents now submits that due to the pandemic, the file of this case is also not available and so he could not place any documents on record.
14. The Petitioner cannot be made to live without a passport indefinitely. This Court has given adequate time to the Respondents to file an affidavit/documents on record, however, not a single shred of paper has been placed on record. On merits, whether the suspension/revocation was justified or not would be the subject matter of final adjudication. However, the Petitioner cannot be made to suffer further especially due to the pandemic that is currently raging which may require him to travel to India to meet his mother who is in India, owing to her age etc.