Published on: November 20, 2023 at 11:53 IST
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has addressed the distinction between the powers vested in the police and the Passport Authority concerning the seizure and impounding of passports.
The court’s clarification emphasizes that while the police have the authority to seize a passport under Section 102 of the CrPC, the act of impounding can only be carried out by the Passport Authority in accordance with Section 10(3) of the Passports Act.
This clarification arose in response to two petitions filed by Raj Singh Gehlot and Aman Gehlot challenging the order of the Additional Special Judge, Anti-corruption, Kashmir Srinagar.
The petitioners sought the release of their passports, which had been seized during the investigation related to the alleged misappropriation of Rs.35 crores from a loan amount of Rs.100 crores disbursed to M/S APHL.
During the investigation, the Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted a search at Raj Singh Gehlot’s residence, leading to the seizure of the passports of both individuals. However, the Investigating Agency did not forward the passports to the Passport Authority for impounding, and it was not the agency’s intention to have the passports impounded.
Justice Sanjay Dhar, examining the case, underscored that the police’s power to seize passports under Section 102 of the CrPC is distinct from the authority granted to the Passport Authority for impounding under the Passport Act.
Referring to the case of Suresh Nanda vs. Central Bureau of Investigation (2008), the court stated, “If the police seizes a passport, which it has power to do under Section 102 of Cr. P.C, the same must be sent to the Passport Authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one of the reasons mentioned in Section 10(3) of the Passports Act, whereafter the Passport Authority would decide whether or not to impound the passport.”
In light of this legal position, the court granted both petitions, instructing the respondents to release the passports of Raj Singh Gehlot and Aman Gehlot while retaining photocopies.
Case Title: Madhu Bakshi Vs ACB Kashmir