Iltija Mufti moves court challenging issuance of conditional passport

 PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti has challenged the conditions imposed by the Ministry of External Affairs while issuing a passport to her last month on the orders of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court.

The High Court has issued a notice to the authorities on her plea challenging the ‘conditional passport’ that restricts the scope of her travel abroad.

Iltija (35) was issued a “country-specific passport” for two years to allow her to study in the United Arab Emirates, in April this year.

The conditional passport was issued after she moved the High Court in February after her application for a passport was not cleared following an adverse report by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

She had applied for a fresh passport on June 8, 2022 as the same was set to expire on January 2 this year.

However, she moved the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh (JKL) High court once again to challenge the conditions.

Challenging the “arbitrary restriction”, Iltija, in her plea, alleged that the decision “suffers from the vice of unreasonableness”.

“The decision to restrict the period of duration of the passport for two years only with an endorsement/order that the passport is valid for the United Arab Emirates only is an arbitrary restriction on the right of the petitioner to travel. The decision suffers from the vice of unreasonableness,” the plea said.

It is not comprehensible that on one hand, the petitioner has been issued a passport, which clearly indicates that there are no grounds in law available to refuse the issuance of passport, but despite it being so, the passport is valid only for the United Arab Emirates, it said.

“The impugned decision as such does not infuse reasonableness and is wholly arbitrary and thereto in law is not sustainable and is required to be declared as ultra vires the fundamental rights as guaranteed to the petitioner under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and the respondents are required to be directed to issue a passport without any endorsement and to be valid for a period of 10 years,” Iltija’s plea stated.

The PDP chief’s daughter, in her plea, said the right to travel abroad inheres in right to life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

“The expression personal liberty’ in Article 21 of the Constitution takes in the right to travel abroad. This right cannot be curtailed except in accordance with the procedure established by law. The whims and caprices of an authority have no role to play in it.

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“The impugned decision restraining the petitioner from travelling abroad is not only illegal, but violates with impunity the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the respondents by an appropriate writ are required to be directed to issue passport in favour of the petitioner to be valid for a period of 10 years without there being any endorsement,” it said.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Sanjay Dhar of the JKL High Court on Friday issued a notice to the authorities and directed them to file their response within two weeks.

The next date of hearing in the case has been listed for July 19.

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