New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan after the government reissued his passport for just one year instead of the full duration of 10 years, citing a criminal case pending against him.
“The plea stands dismissed," said chief justice G. Rohini, while pronouncing the verdict.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher while issuing notice on 20 February 2015 had stated that “If a court impounds the passport or puts restrictions on foreign travel, then only can the validity of the passport be restricted."
As a founding member of the anti-graft movement India Against Corruption, Bhushan had joined a 2012 protest in Delhi against the coal scam.
As a result, cases were registered against him for violating Section 144 of the criminal procedure code and for participating in an unlawful assembly. These cases are pending in the Patiala House courts.
According to the petition, Bhushan had obtained a no-objection certificate from the court on 2 September 2014, without any stipulation on time period or condition for the reissue of the passport, but the passport was reissued for only one year as opposed to the full validity of 10 years.
The issuance of passport for only one year, which expired on 11 September 2015, was “arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable," said the petition.
Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, said the Regional Passport Office had complied with a notification of 1993 issued by the ministry of external affairs relating to passports, laying down that a person against whom a criminal case was pending must approach the court concerned seeking an order permitting him or her to leave the country.
Jain also added that the request for re-issue of passport with full validity could be acceded to only if the court concerned issues a fresh order in this regard.