Srinagar: The J&K High Court has quashed an order about denial of passport to a couple from Sopore for having relation with a ‘militant’. Even as the court has directed the Criminal Investigation Department to reconsider the case “objectively”, the issue has exposed tall claims of the government about providing travel documents to kin of the militants.
Umar Ali, who holds Master’s in Commerce, and his wife, a postgraduate in Bio-Chemistry, had on July 7 last year applied for passports to seek employment outside India.
But the Passport Office did not issue travel documents to them after ‘adverse report’ from the CID. On learning about the development, the couple filed writ petition which was disposed of by a single bench of High Court on September 27 last year with a direction to CID to ensure that a detailed report sought by Passport Office should made available to it. The Passport Office, court had directed, should take a decision on the couple’s application in accordance with law.
Consequent upon the court direction, the Passport Office re-sent the case of the couple to the CID for detailed report. After the report was received, the Passport Office passed an order on October 14 last, refusing to issue passports to the couple.
The CID report received by Passport Office on October 8, which is reproduced in the judgement by the court, reveals that brother of Umar Ali, Abdul Majid Sofi alias Majeed Bisati alias Shaheen crossed over LoC to Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 1990 for arms training. Sofi returned to Kashmir in 1991, the CID report says.
“He remained an active militant of Hizbul Mujahidin till 2005 before he again ex-filitrated to (PaK), and is still there,” the CID said, and sent “Not Recommended” report to Passport Office.
The CID had claimed that there was possibility that the couple was going abroad on a special assignment of the militant group working in J&K.
“Under these circumstances if the petitioners are allowed to go abroad on the strength of Indian Passport, they may indulge in activities prejudicial to the security, sovereignty and integrity of J&K state and India,” the CID report said.
Further, it said, the couple’s departure “will be prejudicial to the friendly relations of India with the country to which it intend to visit.”
Finally, it recommended that reports regarding the couple fall within the ambit of Sec 6(2) of the Passport Act 1967—denial of the passport.
The High Court’s single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, after going through the CID report, observed: “As is axiomatic from the CID report, there is not even an iota or whisper of allegation about the conduct or activities of the petitioners (couple).”
The court further observed that there was nothing adverse found or reported against the couple. “Merely because the brother of petitioner is a fugitive, (couple) cannot be deprived of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
Given the CID report, the court said, it was “undesirable to push the couple into a clique they have, admittedly, never been to.”
Referring to various judgments by Supreme Court and J&K High Court, the bench said that it has been held that it is not permissible under law that “when A has committed a crime B should be punished.”
“In the instant case also, the petitioners are sought to be punished for the alleged sins of some other person.”
Observing that the impugned order on the face of it was also violative of the principles of natural justice, the court quashed the October 14 order by the Passport Office.
It also directed CID to reconsider the case of the couple “objectively, uninfluenced by the conduct or activities of the brother of Ali, and make an appropriate report to the Passport Office strictly in light of the personal conduct and activities of the couple.
“(CID) while framing the opinion, shall also afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioners,” the court said, directing that the needful shall be done within two weeks.
“The Passport Officer shall, thereafter, pass fresh orders on the basis of such report to be furnished (by CID). If there is any material or evidence found against the person of the petitioners, which would entail an unfavourable report against them, the same shall also be disclosed to the petitioners.”
The government, represented by Additional Advocate General R A Khan, had preferred not to file reply while advocate N A Baba pleaded for the couple.