Rashid Paul

J&K HC dismisses Mehbooba Mufti’s plea for passport

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition by former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti praying for directions to Government of India to issue passport to her.

Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, who adjudicated Mufti’s petition, said “I am of the considered view that no direction can be issued by this court for issuance of passport in favor of the petitioner.”

The scope of the court, according to Justice Magray, in the matter of grant of passport in favor of an individual is very limited. “The court, in this behalf, can only direct the concerned authorities to expeditiously consider the case of an individual in the light of the mandate of the scheme of law governing the subject,” he said.

“The respondent authorities have already undertaken the said exercise in tune with the mandate of the scheme of law by, firstly, seeking report from the police/CID authorities, and, thereafter, passing the order in tune with such recommendations of the police/CID authorities,” he observed.

The court found substance in the argument of Assistant Solicitor General of India, T M Shamsi, which said Mehbooba Mufti has no absolute right to demand a passport in her favor.

“In the above background, I do not find any reason to interfere with the course of action adopted by the respondents in this case, as a sequel thereto, the petition of the petitioner is hereby dismissed, along with the connected CMPs,” ordered Justice Magray.

It, however, said the dismissal of the writ petition shall not come in the way of the petitioner for availing the remedy as may be available to her in accordance with the law.

Shamsi, the lawyer representing the Government of India, had told the court that the petitioner Mufti has no right to claim a passport “as it is a document that vouches for the respectability of the holder. It stands to reason that the government need not vouch for a person it does not consider worthy.”

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.

“The Police Verification report received from Additional Director General of Police, J&K-CID does not favor issuance of passport and returned as “NOT RECOMMENDED PASSPORT CASE”, vide No. CID/Final/21/017558- 017559 dated 18th of March, 2021”, the state lawyer informed the court.

Pertinently, in a letter to Mehbooba Mufti, the Regional Passport Office here informed the PDP president on March 26 that her application for a passport was rejected on the basis of the “adverse” police verification report.

The passport officer also informed the former chief minister that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Union Territory had recommended against granting a passport to her.

The letter said Mehbooba can appeal against the decision at a higher forum provided by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Commenting on the rejection of her application, the PDP president said it shows the level of normalcy achieved in Kashmir.

“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,” she said in a tweet.

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