In this judgment from Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, Writ Petition is allowed and the Passport Authority is ordered to re-consider the request of petitioner.
From Para 8,
The plea in the counter affidavit filed in W.P(C) No.3885/2013 is that the passport of the petitioner in the said case was impounded under clause (c) and (e) of sub section 3 of Section 10 of the Passport Act. However, the show cause notice dated 14.3.2012 contains absolutely no reference to clause (c) of the said sub section. Moreover, there is no mention in the said notice that it was necessary to impound the passport in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country or in the interest of the general public. The only reason given in the show cause notice dated 14.3.2012 for the proposed revocation receipt of information report from CBI regarding registration of a criminal case against the passport holder. In fact, these communications sent by the Regional Passport Office to the petitioners do not contain any such averment and the only reason given for impounding the passport was the adverse recommendation of CBI in connection with a criminal case registered by it. Therefore, it would not be correct to say that the passports were impounded under clause (c) of sub section 3 of Section 10 of the Passport Act, 1967.
From Para 9,
As regards the applicability of sub clause (b), the counter affidavit is conspicuously silent as to the material information, if any, suppressed or the written information, if any, provided by the passport holder while applying for issue of passport. There is no reference to clause (b) of sub section (3) in the reasons conveyed to the petitioners. There is no averment in the said communication that the passport was obtained by suppressing the material information or providing wrong information. In the communicated dated 5.9.2012, which was dispatched only on 7.1.2013, as is evident from the postal stamp appearing on the communication, there is a reference to an adverse police verification report, but admittedly, no such report was provided to the passport holders at any point of time, nor did the communication referred to any suppression of material information or furnishing of wrong information at the time of obtaining the passport. More importantly, the passports according to the respondents were impounded vide circular dated 14.9.2012, whereas the communication dated 5.9.2012 was dispatched to the petitioners only on 7.1.2013. Therefore, the said communication dated 5.9.2012 in any case could not have been the basis for impounding the passport.
From Para 11,
Admittedly, no opportunity of personal hearing was given to the petitioners before this Court despite their having duly replied to the show cause notice. In my view, the show cause notices issued to the petitioners should have been followed by an opportunity of personal hearing to them. No such hearing, however, was given to them either before or after passing the order impounding their passports. This is yet another reason why the impugned order dated 14.9.2012 cannot be sustained.
Very important point from para 13,
Anand Tewari Vs Union Of India & Ors, on 18 September, 2013
Clause (e) of Section 10 (3) applies only if the proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the passport holder are pending before a criminal court at the time the passport is revoked/ impounded. Mere registration of a criminal case against a person does not amount to proceedings being pending against him before a criminal court. The proceedings can be said to be pending only when a charge-sheet is filed. During the course of arguments, the learned counsel for the respondents placed on record a communication dated 4.9.2013 received from CBI which shows that a charge-sheet against Mr. Anand Tewari and P.K. Tewari, the petitioners in W.P(C) Nos. 3885/2013 and 5153/2013 has been filed in the Court on 23.8.2013 whereas the remaining cases are still pending investigation. Thus, no charge-sheet has yet been filed against Mr. Abhishek Tewari, petitioner in W.P (C) No.5155/2013 and no charge-sheet either against Mr. P.K. Tewari or against Abhishek Tewari had been filed by the time their passports were impounded vide order dated 14.9.2012. The passports, therefore, could not have been impounded prior to 23.8.2013, when the charge sheet was filed. In fact, in Abhijit Sen Vs. Superintendent (Administration) Regional Passport Officer & Ors. 2004 Cri LJ 1281, a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court was of the view that the criminal proceedings in terms of clause (e) can be said to be pending only from the date on which cognizance is taken, by the Court, after filing of a charge sheet.