Bombay High Court Upholds Fundamental Right to Travel Abroad & Passports Cannot Be Denied Citing Address Disputes

LI Network

Published on: December 27, 2023 at 13:52 IST

In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court has asserted the fundamental right to travel abroad, emphasizing that authorities cannot withhold passports on grounds of an ongoing dispute over the applicant’s address.

The case involved a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the rejection of passport renewal applications for a woman, Rajinder Kaur, and her two sons.

The Passport Authority had initially denied renewal based on objections raised by the woman’s brother-in-law, Gurvinder Chanan Singh Layal, regarding the stated address in the applications.

Justices AS Chandurkar and Firdosh P. Pooniwalla directed the Regional Passport Officer, Mumbai, to renew the passports, highlighting that a person should not be deprived of the fundamental right to travel abroad merely due to disputes over property mentioned in the address on the passport.

The Court clarified that including the address in the passport does not grant any property rights to the applicants, ensuring that the brother-in-law is not prejudiced in any way.

While acknowledging the ongoing property dispute, the court emphasized that protecting property rights should not infringe on an individual’s right to travel, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Passport Authority’s refusal was deemed “arbitrary and without jurisdiction” by the court, which observed that the Passports Act does not empower authorities to reject applications based on such disputes.

The Court directed the Passport Authority to issue passports to the petitioners in accordance with the Passports Act and Rules, refraining from delving into the merits of objections raised by the brother-in-law.

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