Srinagar: The High Court of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir has clarified the distinction between the powers of the police and the passport authority regarding the seizing and impounding of passports.
Justice Sanjay Dhar said, “Police may seize a passport under Section 102 of the CrPC, the impounding can only be done by the Passport Authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act.”
The clarification came in response to two petitions filed by Raj Singh Gehlot and Aman Gehlot challenging the order of the Additional Special Judge, Srinagar.
The order had dismissed the applications filed by the petitioners seeking the release of their passports in a case related to the misappropriation of Rs.35 crores out of a loan amount of Rs 100 crores disbursed to M/S APHL.
The passports of both petitioners were seized during a search at Raj Singh Gehlot’s residence conducted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau as part of their investigation. Justice Dhar noted, “The Investigating Agency had neither forwarded the passports of the petitioners to passport authority for impounding nor was it the desire of the respondent Investigating Agency to have the passports of the petitioners impounded.”
Deliberating on the powers of the police to seize passports during investigations, Justice Dhar emphasised, “While the police have the power to seize passports under Section 102 of the CrPC, the authority to impound them lies solely with the passport authority under the Passport Act.”
The court observed, “If the police seize a passport, which it have power to do under Section 102 of Cr. P.C, the same must be sent to the passport authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one of the reasons mentioned in Section 10(3) of the Passports Act, where the passport authority would decide whether or not to impound the passport.”
In view of this legal position, the court allowed both petitions, directing respondents to release the passports of Raj Singh Gehlot and Aman Gehlot after retaining photocopies.