Bench ruled that the court also had no such power to impound the passport.
Madras High Court has issued a set of guidelines to be followed by police, lower courts and passport authorities in the matter of impounding passports.
Though the police are entitled to seizing a passport under Section 104 of the CrPC, they have no authority to keep it in their custody.
In turn, as soon as possible, the passport must be produced before the court concerned without any unreasonable delay, Justice M V Muralidharan said on February 26 last.
The judge was allowing a revision petition from Dr C Ramesh Babu, an orthopaedic surgeon, seeking return of his passport impounded by police and deposited with a lower court in connection with a criminal case.
The judge said that the court also had no such power to impound the passport. However, the duty of the court is to direct the passport authority to commence the proceedings for impounding passport by strictly adhering to the provision under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act as the same is a special enactment.
In turn, the passport authority is to initiate due process to impound the passport after affording opportunity duly to the holder of the passport as it involves the right to free movement as guaranteed in the Constitution. After considering the necessity pertaining to facts and circumstances of each case, the passport authority, by giving detailed reasons, may take any decision on either side by applying the mind.
Coming back to the case on hand, the judge observed that the petitioner used to travel abroad due to his profession. Further, his son is also pursuing his higher studies in London. “Therefore this court considers that the petitioner’s request is genuine. In view of the discussion above, I have no hesitation to allow this criminal revision,” the judge said and accordingly allowed it.