Srinagar: Denial of passport on grounds that a person’s relative(s) crossed the Line of Control to go to Pakistan-adminstered Kashmir (PaK) is “unwarranted” and “unjustified”, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court told state authorities on Monday.
Dismissing the objections made by state authorities, the High Court directed that full-term passports be issued to a retired government employee and his wife, residents of north Kashmir, within six weeks.
The couple was being denied passports on the basis of a police report that the man’s nephew had crossed over to PaK. Justice MK Hanjura said that if a person’s relative has crossed over to PaK, it does not mean that the person is liable for punishment, especially when “nothing adverse” is in the records against him.
“On the premise that the nephew of petitioner Abdul Samad Wani, a retired government employee, had ex-filtrated to Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 2004 and had not returned, the state government had declined to recommend full-term passports in favour of the petitioner and his wife,” the court observed.
Referring to the J&K High Court’s judgement in the case of Abdul Majid Sheikh Vs Union of India & others, 2011, Justice Hanjura said that the petitioner’s son had joined militancy and because of that passport was not being issued to him. The High Court had ruled in this case: “That any act on the part of the petitioner’s son cannot be used against the petitioner to affect his right to seek passport, when nothing has been attributed by the state authorities about the petitioner likely to engage himself in any such activity which may attract any one or the other conditions indicated in Section 6 of the Passport Act 1967, disentitling him to issuance of passport. This court has held that refusal of passport on the report of the state government cannot sustain and is unjustified.”
In the latest case, Abdul Samad Wani and his wife were issued passports in the year 2013. Thereafter, the passports were extended up to January 2017. After that, the government refused to recommend full-term passports, which forced the petitioners to knock the doors of the High Court.
Justice Hanjura said in his judgement, “As per the state report, the petitioners have not misused their passports for any such purpose as forbidden by the provisions of Section 6 of the Passport Act. This important aspect of the matter has not been kept in mind by the respondent (State) when it submitted its report to the passport issuing authority.”
The judge added, “Given the fact that the matter involves the fundamental right of the passport holders, the exercise shall be undertaken and squared off, as expeditiously as possible and, in any case, within six weeks from the date the certified copy of this order is served upon the respondents.”