J&K&L: Registration of FIR or Pending Investigation not Result to Refusal of Issue/Renewal of Passport

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: 28 November 2022 at 11:07 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court ruled that the passport authorities could not deny a person their passport based solely on the filing of a police report (FIR) against them and could not get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) in this regard from a court of law.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar ordered the passport authorities to provide the petitioner, Rajesh Gupta, with a passport in the reissue category without objection after quashing the communication in which the aggrieved person was informed by the Passport Department’s Public Information Officer that the Passport Office had received a report from the police indicating that FIR No. 3/2019 is registered against him as a result.

“When no criminal proceedings are ongoing in any competent court with criminal jurisdiction, the respondents cannot demand that the petitioner provide a NOC from the court,” Justice Kumar ruled.

He claimed that after looking through the records, it is abundantly evident that the petitioner is the subject of simply a FIR and that the court has not yet received a final report on the case.

In light of the court’s finding that the petition has substance, the respondent passport officer is authorised to grant the petitioner’s request for a passport renewal. The Court emphasised that the respondents should first confirm if the final report in the FIR No. 3/2019 filed against the petitioner has been delivered to the appropriate legal authority.

The court also stated that if the petitioner’s FIR’s final report had been submitted to the appropriate court of law, the passport officer would have to make the appropriate decisions after exercising due caution and, if necessary, could have asked for the petitioner to provide a NOC from the relevant court.

The Passport Act provision that applies to this case, according to the court, has already been construed in light of several judgements made by various High Courts across the nation, therefore the circular instructions given by the Government of India cannot supersede it.

In addition, the circular and office memo cited by the respondents refer to cases where there is just a FIR registered and the matter is in the investigative stage and do not take cases where there is only a FIR lodged into consideration, the court said.

The court reaffirmed that the mere filing of a FIR or the ongoing investigation by the investigating agency is not a reason to deny issuance or renewal of a passport requested by the applicant, and that no criminal proceedings are initiated when a FIR is only filed and an investigation is conducted by the investigating agency.

Only after the investigating agency files a final report with the court, or in the case of a private complaint, when the criminal Court of Competent Jurisdiction takes cognizance and moves forward in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, do criminal proceedings before the competent Court of Criminal Jurisdiction begin.

Judge while concluding the case stated that, “We cannot declare that there are criminal proceedings ongoing in the Court until such an eventuality occurs. There is no question, not even the slightest bit of doubt, that the filing of a FIR and the investigation resulting from it by the investigating agency cannot be considered to be proceedings pending before a criminal court in India that would warrant the disqualification specified in Clause (f) of Subsection (2) of Section 6 of the Passport Act”

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