“No Point in denying opportunity of employment abroad”: Kerala HC allows passport renewal for an accused

Background:

The petitioner in the case was accused in a crime from 2017, punishable under Sec.20(b) (ii) (A) of the NDPS Act and Sec.77 of Juvenile Justice Act. He was eventually granted bail in 2019, and went abroad. 

As the petitioner’s passport was due to expire on 23rd March 2021, he approached the Indian Consulate at Dubai for re-validation of the passport. His request was denied due to the pendency of the criminal case. Thus, he approached the HC for seeking re-validation. He was directed to file an application in the Sessions Court. However, the sessions court rejected the application. 

It found the petitioner at fault for not disclosing that he was the holder of a passport, at the time when he was granted bail and for having gone abroad without obtaining permission from the court. This was thus challenged in the HC. 

Submissions:

The learned counsel of the petitioner stated that while granting bail, no condition was imposed requiring the petitioner to surrender his passport and hence, the petitioner cannot be held at fault for having gone abroad without seeking the court’s permission. There was no possibility of the case being listed for trial immediately either.

On the other hand, the counsel for the state submitted that in view of the pendency of the criminal case, the petitioner’s passport will not be re-validated unless directed by the jurisdictional court or this court. 

Decision:

The Hon’ble Judge V.G. Arun stated that there was no purpose being served by denying the petitioner the opportunity of securing employment abroad. Also, no prejudice will be caused by the petitioner’s passport being re-validated for a short period. Thus, the competent officer was directed to reevaluate the petitioner’s passport for another year. 

The petitioner was to deposit Rs.50,000 before the jurisdictional court which could be confiscated in the event that the petitioner failed to return and appear before the jurisdictional Court within one year period. He was to also file an affidavit containing his foreign information and to also make proper representation in court.

Story by Sai Kulkarni- Intern

Case No-Crl.MC.No.1275 OF 2021(H)

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