Rashid Paul

HC issues notice to govt on Mehbooba Mufti’s plea that she’s being denied passport

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday issued notice returnable by two weeks on a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, seeking court directions to Government of India to issue passport to her.

The former chief minister and one-time ally of the Bhartiya Janata Partry (BJP) alleged that a passport for international travel is being denied to her for want of police verification.

While issuing the notice to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Regional Passport Officer and Additional Director General Police J&K, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey made it clear that the pendency of plea “shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification.”

Mehbooba Mufti submitted in her petition that the passport issued to her was valid till May 31, 2019 and that she applied for issuance of a fresh passport before the Regional Passport Officer on 11 December last year.

Former advocate general Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, representing her, submitted that as per circular instructions issued by MEA, Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days.

However, in case of Mehbooba Mufti, despite lapse of three months, passport is not being issued.

He 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 police station under SP office, District Srinagar.”

He said that Mufti approached Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar on February 13 this year with a 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, she (Mehbooba Mufti) had no option but to approach the court for the relief.

The former chief minister 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.

Assistant Solicitor General of India, who was present during the hearing of the case, waived notice on behalf of MEA and Passport Officer Srinagar while as senior Additional Advocate General of J&K waived the notice on behalf of the Union Territory administration and its police.

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