By LE Desk

Srinagar, March 9: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday issued notice to the Union Territory government on a petition filed by former Chief Minister and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti asking for the issuance of her passport allegedly denied to her for want for police verification. 

“It is made clear the pendency of the writ petition shall not form any impediment for the police agency to expedite the verification” reads an order issued by a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magray, Outlook magazine reported.

Former Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, representing Mehbooba informed the court that “as per circular instructions issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days. But in the instant case, despite lapse of three months, passport has not been issued to petitioner.”

“While availing the tracking facility on the Passport Officer’s website, they came to know about the status of the passport as pending for physical verification at respective Thana under SP Office, District Srinagar,” Ganai informed the Court.

He said the former Chief Minister subsequently approached the police on February 13, 2021, with the request to forward the police report to the passport office. “But till date the status of the passport of the petitioner on the available portal of the passport office shows the same status,” he said. He said all this forced the petitioner to approach the Court for relief.

Early this month former Chief Minister of J&K and two-time member parliament Mehbooba Mufti approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for the issuance of her passport.

In her petition, Mehbooba says, “the petitioner has been a member of the state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and a member of Indian Parliament, representing Anantnag Constituency in the 14th and 16th Lok Sabha.” “The petitioner has also served as a Chief Minister of J&K state from April 4, 2016, to June 19, 2018,” the petition reads. She says despite representation for unknown reasons her police verification report has not been forwarded to the passport office

 The petitioner says she has a right to hold a passport in terms of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. “The delay in issuing a passport in favour of the petitioner is an act which is not in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Passport Act. The delay occasioned in issuing the passport in favour of the petitioner has an effect of imposing restrictions on the rights of the petitioner vested upon her by the Constitution of India, which guarantees her freedom to travel abroad,” the petition reads.  “It is essential to state here that the right to travel abroad inheres in right to life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India,” the petition reads.

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