Updated: March 30, 2021 12:25:30 am
AUTHORITIES IN Jammu and Kashmir on Monday declined to provide clearance for a fresh passport to former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti citing section 6(c) of the Passport Act, 1967, which states “that the departure of the applicant from India may, or is likely to, be detrimental to the security of India.”
On March 3, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had petitioned the J&K High Court seeking issuance of a passport, stating that more than two months had passed since she applied for her passport and the police is yet to file its verification report, delaying the process of issuance of the passport. The Regional Passport Officer in Srinagar, submitted this response before the court in a hearing of the case on Monday.
While denying the issuance of passport, the regional passport office notes that the Police Verification Report received from the J&K CID via the Additional Director General of Police, J&K CID, “do not favour” issuance of passport. It adds, that Mufti’s case was “found to attract refusal” on the grounds mentioned above.
Passport Office refused to issue my passport based on CID’s report citing it as ‘detrimental to the security of India. This is the level of normalcy achieved in Kashmir since Aug 2019 that an ex Chief Minister holding a passport is a threat to the sovereignty of a mighty nation. pic.twitter.com/3Z2CfDgmJy
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 29, 2021
In her appeal before the court, Mufti had said, that “the delay occasioned in issuing the passport in favour of the petitioner has an effect of imposing restrictions on the rights of the petitioner vested upon her by the Constitution of India, which guarantees her freedom to travel abroad,” as expressed under “Personal Liberty” in Article 21 of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, a separate application for Mehbooba Mufti’s mother, Gulshan Nazir has also been rejected on the same grounds. “CID claims that my mother who is well into her seventies is a ‘threat to national security’ & therefore doesn’t deserve a passport. GOI is employing absurd methods to harass & punish me for not toeing their line,” Mufti tweeted, posting the letter from Passport Officer, BB Nagar, Srinagar.
The March 26, 2021, letter from the Passport Officer, Srinagar, said the case was “found to attract refusal under provisions of Section 6 (2) (c) of the Passport Act, 1967. Gulshan Nazir, wife of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had applied for the passport on December 14, 2020.
In several landmark cases, the Supreme Court has held that the right to travel abroad is part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. In the 1978 Menaka Gandhi v Union of India case, in which Gandhi’s passport was impounded, the Supreme Court held that personal liberty can be curtailed only under “just, fair and reasonable” grounds and not “arbitrary” and “vague” grounds. Menaka Gandhi’s active passport was impounded under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act in “public interest” without giving Gandhi an opportunity to present her case. The seven-judge unanimous verdict put a greater responsibility on the state to follow “due procedure” and not just “any procedure laid down” in the law to encroach upon personal liberty.
Taking to Twitter, Mufti said on Monday, “Passport Office refused to issue my passport based on CID’s report citing it as ‘detrimental to the security of India. This is the level of normalcy achieved in Kashmir since Aug 2019 that an ex Chief Minister holding a passport is a threat to the sovereignty of a mighty nation.”
Meanwhile, terming the denial of passport to the PDP chief “a shame” National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah also said on Twitter, “What a shame J&K police is going along with this farce. How is it that Mehbooba Mufti was not a threat to the nation when her party was allied with the BJP? As Chief Minister she was incharge of the Home Department & head of the Unified Command, now suddenly she’s a threat!”
The former Chief Minister’s previous passport expired on May 31, 2019. A fresh application of the petitioner was submitted on December 12. The Passport as per the Instruction Manual is expected to be dispatched within approximately 30 days, her counsel Jehangir Iqbal Ganaie said.
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