Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, October 6, 2021: The Supreme Court has held that the Passport Authority cannot refuse the renewal of the passport on the ground of pendency of the criminal appeal, since the sentence which the applicant/accused has to undergo is for a period of one year.

A Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai observed that refusal of a passport can be only in case where an applicant is convicted during the period of 5 years immediately preceding the date of application for an offence involving moral turpitude and sentence for imprisonment for not less than two years. 

The background of the case was that, pursuant to conviction of appellant/applicant for offences punishable u/s 120-B, 420, 468, 471 & 477 A of IPC r/w/s 13(1) & (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, his application for exemption from surrendering came to be allowed. 

In the meanwhile, the applicant filed an application for direction to the CBI (respondent) to give no objection for renewal of his passport which stood expired, which was however not considered. 

In spite of his repeated efforts, including filing of an application under the Right to Information Act, the Applicant was not informed the reason for non-renewal of his passport.

Though, the applicant was orally informed that his passport was not renewed due to the pendency of criminal appeal against him in the present Court.  

The Bench found that as per Section 6(2) of the Passports Act, 1967, the passport authority shall refuse to issue a passport or travel document for visiting any foreign country u/s 5(2)(c) on any one or more of the grounds mentioned therein, but on no other ground. 

The Apex Court therefore directed the passport authority to renew the passport of the applicant without raising the objection relating to the pendency of the criminal appeal in this Court.

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