Rashid Paul

HC disposes off Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal against order that dismissed her petition for issuance of passport

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Asks concerned to decide her plea on merits, under rules and provisions of Act; un-influenced by observations made in court judgment

Srinagar: A division bench of the J&K High Court Friday disposed off an appeal by former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti against a single judge order that dismissed her writ petition seeking directions to concerned authorities to issue passport to her.

Mufti through her lawyer had shown willingness to approach the appropriate authorities to avail the remedy available to her under the government scheme. She, however, wanted that the High Court should make the single bench observations dispensable which rejected her writ petition on 29th of March, 2021.

Among other arguments by the lawyers representing the government, the court of single judge bench had found substance in the statement of the Assistant Solicitor General of India, T M Shamsi, which said “Mehbooba Mufti has no absolute right to demand a passport in her favor.”

Shamsi had also argued 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.”

Hearing the appeal by Mufti, Justices Javed Iqbal Wani and Tashi Rabstan today disposed it off, yet it provided liberty to her “to approach the appropriate authority to avail the proper remedy available to her under the scheme”.

As per the official format, she is supposed to appeal before the Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.

The division bench directed the authorities concerned to consider and decide Mufti’s plea “on its merits, strictly under rules, regulations and the provisions of the Act, that too un-influenced by the observations made in the judgment impugned dated 29th of March, 2021”.

Today it, however, refrained from expressing any opinion on the merits of the case.

Pertinently, in a letter to Mehbooba Mufti, the Regional Passport Office here had informed her 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 and Peoples Democratic Party president that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Union Territory had recommended against granting a passport to her.

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