Punjab high court grants the obvious fundamental right to citizens (Passport Act, 1967) at a stretch

TITLE: Mohan Lal & others vs Union of India  

Decided On-14.07.2023

CWP-27167 of 2018 and all connected cases

CORAM: Hon’ble Justice Mr. Jagmohan Bansal

INTRODUCTION-   By filing this petition in accordance with Articles 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution, the petitioner is requesting direction from respondents Nos. 1 through 3 regarding the renewal of his passport.


In a nutshell, the petitioner received a passport on August 22, 2005, and that passport expired on August 21, 2015, in order to decide this case. In accordance with the NDPS Act, a FIR was filed against him on March 13, 2008. In a judgement dated October 9, 2013, the trial court found the petitioner guilty of violating Section 15 of the NDPS Act and sentenced him to ten years in prison. The petitioner contesting the rulingof conviction and sentence CRA-S-3725-SB of 2013 before this Court, which was ultimately admitted by order dated November 25, 2013. The petitioner’s sentence was suspended by an order this Court issued on February 14, 2017. The petitioner asked for his passport to be renewed on July 7, 2017. The petitioner was made aware of a bad police report in a communication dated July 17, 2017. Final closure of the petitioner’s application. A directive to the respondents to renew his passport was requested by the petitioner in the ongoing appeal; however, this request was ultimately denied by order dated September 25, 2018. The petitioner had the right to file a civil writ petition in the event that his application was denied, but it was denied on the grounds that the requested relief was only of a civil nature.


Learned  The petitioner’s attorney, among other things, claims that clause (e) of Section 6(2) of the Passport Act of 1967 (also known as the “1967 Act”) applies to his case. According to Clause (e) of Section 6(2) of the 1967 Act, the passport authority may grant a passport to a person who has been convicted within five years of the application date or whose sentence is less than two years. The strictures of clause (e) of Section 6(2) of the 1967 Act are not applicable if an applicant is sentenced to a term of less than two years or dies within five years of the date of conviction. Ld. Counsels for respondents Nos. 1 through 3, including the Union of India and the passport authorities, would contend that because the petitioner has been found guilty and given a 10-year sentence, he is ineligible to receive a passport. An appeal is a continuation of the initial civil or criminal proceedings. Since the petitioner’s appeal is still pending before this court, even though his case does not fall under Clause (e) of Section 6(2) of the 1967 Act, it is clearly covered by that provision. The Government has made it clear that a passport can only be issued to a requester against whom criminal proceedings are pending on the basis of notification No. 570(E) dated 25.08.1993 issued by the Government in accordance with the authority granted by Section 22 of the Act.

The court has heard the arguments and taken a thorough approach to the case as a result of the respondent’s attorney’s reliance on several honorable courts’ decisions. Additionally, the current honorable court has reviewed previous statutes and rulings, granted citizens clear rights, and stated The issue needs to be further examined in light of the evolving social, scientific, and economic environment with regard to human and fundamental rights.Although a Constitution Bench in Maneka Gandhi (supra), more than 40 years ago, held that the right to travel is not one of the fundamental rights enumerated in Article 19(1) of the Constitution, it still considered a number of scenarios where the denial of a passport would constitute a violation of the right to freedom of speech or freedom of business contemplated by that provision.

The petitioner submitted a passport application before the five-year window following the conviction expired. The five-year window starting from the conviction date expired on October 8, 2018. The petitioner’s application must be decided by Respondent No. 3 within eight weeks of the filing date of any subsequent petitions, if any.

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Written by-  Steffi Desousa

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