The Passports Act, 1967 is an act of the Indian Parliament for the purpose of issuance of passports and travel documents, to control and monitor the departure of Indian citizens from India and to supervise and oversee the other similar affairs. This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India extending to the Indian citizens residing outside India. The Indian Passport Ordinance 1967 was replaced by the Passports Act. The Passports Act 1967 was enacted with retrospective effect from the 5th day of May 1967 by Act 15 of 1967. This Act sets out the course of actions involved in obtaining an Indian Passport.
In compliance with the rules and standards of Article 9 of the Constitution of India, dual citizenship is not permitted by the Act. As specified in Section 12 of the Act, it is essential for a person to give up his/her passport if he/she has obtained the citizenship of any other country. The reason behind the enactment of the Passports Act was to keep an eye over the unrestricted movement of citizens moving out of India. As per the provisions of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the right to free movement is viewed as a fundamental right; however, its restriction is considered a comprehensive contravention of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Passports Act was enacted to ensure affirmative reinforcement by not allowing those who could have a potentiality of setting back the integrity and sovereignty of India.
In the well-known case of “Satwant Singh Sawnhey v. Union of India”, it was held by the Supreme Court of India that right to travel is certainly a Fundamental right under Article 21 of Constitution of India and the government has no authority or right to deny for a passport to a person who is willing to obtain a passport. Therefore, it came out to be essential to supervise the issuance of travel documents and passports by law. Before the arrival of this Act, the government used to issue passports in compliance with its executive power on foreign relations.
Conditions under which a Passport could be Revoked
In India, the “Passport Sewa Kendra” is the concerned body for the issuance of passports. The Passport Sewa Kendra is the online domain of the Passport Office. A person who intends to obtain a passport is supposed to fill up or enter all the requisite details on the online portal and after that he/she is allotted with an appointment in his/her nearest Regional Passport Office in order to conclude all the other necessary tasks. However, here we are supposed to discuss the revocation of a passport and for knowing that the foremost thing we must be aware of is Section 10 (3) of the Passports Act 1967. Section 10 (3) of the Passports Act 1967 talks at length about the extent of powers of the passport authority to impound or revoke a passport or a travel document of a citizen. This section provides that the passport authority possesses the power to impound or cause to be impounded or revoke a travel document or a passport. There are certain circumstances under which a passport or a travel document of a person could be impounded or revoked in accordance with the provisions of the aforementioned section. Some of such set of circumstances are spoken about below.
If the passport authority is convinced and assured that the possessor of a travel document or a passport is in wrongful or unjustified possession, then such a passport or travel document could be impounded or revoked.
In instances where a passport or a travel document is procured by repressing or not disclosing any important information or by providing any incorrect information, such passport or travel document would be impounded or revoked.
A passport or a travel document would be impounded or revoked if the passport authority considers it imperative to do with reference to the integrity and sovereignty of India, the national security of India, cordial ties of India with any foreign country or in the respect of general population of India.
If the possessor of a passport or a travel document has been convicted by a court in India for any offence which might be related to immorality and has been imprisoned for more than two years at any time after the issuance of the passport or the travel document, such a passport or travel document would be revoked or impounded.
If it is, later on, found that any of the essential conditions for obtaining a passport or a travel document had been violated at the time of issuance of the passport or the travel document, then such a passport or travel document would be impounded or revoked.
A passport or a travel document would be impounded or revoked if the possessor of the passport or travel document has been unsuccessful to act in accordance with a notice under sub-section (1) of the Act which asks him/her to act in accordance with it.
Steps which could be taken in order to get a Passport Revoked
If one wants to file a complaint in order to get someone’s passport revoked or impounded, the first thing which he/she would be expected to do is finding the suitable sub section under which he/she can file the complaint and based on it the person should draft a written complaint.
The person who intends to file a complaint in order to get someone’s passport revoked should write a complaint mentioning all the facts and set of circumstances under which the matter exists and the reason for which he/she thinks that the mentioned sub section is applicable and also the reason for which he/she wants to get the passport of such person revoked and forward the same draft to the concerned Passport Issuing Authority.
After the submission of the complaint application to the concerned regional passport office, within a time period of 15 days the concerned passport office will call for the appearance of both the parties involved which include the person against whom the complaint has been made and the person who has made the complaint, to give statements briefing as to why the passport of the concerned person must or must not be revoked. After the recording of the statements, the concerned passport officer comes up with a substantial decision based on the arguments and facts put forward by both the parties.
If the complainant is not pleased with the final decision, he/she possesses a right of appealing before the Chief Passport Officer which means that if a complainant is not happy with the outcome of the case, he/she may go on to appeal before the Chief Passport Officer in order to obtain the final disposal of the matter.
Opinion of Honourable Delhi High Court with regards to Revocation of Passport
The Honourable Delhi High Court has very clearly stated that even if a criminal case is pending against a person, the Passport Office cannot revoke his/her passport as a rule. The High Court has further clarified that a passport can only be revoked or impounded in appropriate cases where convincing rationalities have to be submitted by the Regional Passport Office in writing.
Justice V.K. Jain, while accepting the plea of a man confronting trial in a matrimonial case filed by his wife, ruled the passport authority to free up his passport which was revoked for the reason that there were criminal charges against him. Nonetheless, the court also supervised the man not to go out of India without the permission of the court and also directed him to appear for all the criminal proceedings going on against him.
Accepting the plea of Manish Kumar Mittal against the concerned passport authority, Justice V.K. Jain stated “The order passed by the Regional Passport Officer directing the petitioner (Mittal) to surrender his passport, as well as the order passed by the appellate authority, are, hereby, set aside. The respondents (authorities) are directed to release the passport of the petitioner to him forthwith.”
In addition, the court also ruled the Regional Passport Office to pass an order within the time period of 8 weeks after providing a chance to Manish Kumar Mittal to frame his standpoint as specified by the Passport Act. The court also stated that until a new order in accordance with the Passport Act is passed, Manish Kumar Mittal must not go out of India without obtaining a permit from the concerned court in order to ensure that he does not escape out of the country after receiving his passport from the Regional Passport Office.
To cut the long story short and to talk in an elementary version, it could be argued that section 10 (3) of the Passport Act 1967 speaks about the set of circumstances during which a passport or a travel document could be revoked or impounded. For instance, under Sub Section (a) of the Act, a passport or a travel document could be revoked or impounded if it is under wrongful possession, Sub Section (b) provides that when a passport or a travel document is procured with the aid of misrepresentation or fraud, it could be revoked or impounded, Sub Section (c) states that if the Passport Office considers the revocation of a passport or a travel document essential, in order to preserve cordial relations with other foreign countries, it is valid. Sub Section (d) of the Passport Act talks that when a possessor of a passport or a travel document has been sentenced for a crime having imprisonment for more than two years; his/her passport would be revoked. Sun Section (f) states that a passport or a travel document could be revoked or impounded if any of the essentials for the issuance of the passport or the travel document has been breached or violated. Sub Section (g) of the Act provides that if a possessor of a passport or a travel document fails to adhere with any notice come up under sub-section (1), his/her passport could be revoked or impounded.