High Court sends notice to MEA, CID on Mehbooba’s passport plea

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday issued notice returnable by two weeks on a petition filed by former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, regarding issuance of passport allegedly denied to her for want of police verification.

While issuing the notice to MEA, Regional Passport Officer and Additional Director General Police among others, a bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey made it clear the pendency of plea “shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification.” 

In her plea, Mufti submits that the passport issued to her was valid till 31 May 2019. Subsequently, she applied for issuance of a passport before the Regional Passport Officer on 11 December last year. 

Former Advocate General and senior lawyer Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, representing her, submitted that as per circular instructions issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days.

However, he said, in the instant case, despite the lapse of three months, passport has not been issued to Mufti. 

The senior counsel further submitted that Mufti while availing the tracking facility on the passport officer’s website, came to know about the status of the passport as “pending for physical verification at respective Thana under SP office, District Srinagar”.He submitted that Mufti approached Senior Superintendent of Police on 13 February this year with the request to forward the police report to the passport office but till date, there is no change in the status of the passport on the portal of the passport office. Therefore, he said, Mufti had no option but to approach the court for the relief.   

She has also sought directions declaring the action of officials concerned in not allowing her to travel abroad as illegal and unconstitutional violating her fundamental right to travel abroad as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution or India.

T.M. Shamsi, ASGI waived notice on behalf of MEA 1 and Passport Officer while B.A. Dar, Senior Additional Advocate General waived the notice on behalf of local government and police. “It is made clear the pendency of writ petition shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification,” the court said. 

Meanwhile, the high court while hearing a plea by Mufti’s mother, issued notice to the concerned on the plea for passport to her as well. (GNS)

 

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