No Absolute Right to Demand Passport: J&K HC On Mehbooba Mufti's Plea

HC said its scope was limited. It could only ask authorities to expedite applications not issue passports to individuals.

The Jammu & Kashmir (JK) High Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by former JK chief minister Mehbooba Mufti seeking the renewal of her passport. The high court refused to interfere with the Centre's decision citing the limited "scope" a court has in the matter of granting passports to individuals.

The high court further relied on the Supreme Court's Satwant Singh verdict which said that an individual did not have the absolute right to demand a passport.

"In such circumstances, I am of the considered view that no direction can be issued by this court for issuance of a passport in favour of the petitioner…court can only direct the concerned authorities to expeditiously consider the case of an individual in the light of the mandate of the scheme of law governing the subject," the order said.

Mufti's passport had expired in May 2019 and she sought to renew it in December 2020. In February 2021, Mufti moved the high court when there was no decision on her application three months after she had first filed for renewal. According to the law, the External Affairs Ministry is required to issue a passport within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application.

Mufti's departure detrimental to country's security: Centre

On Monday, Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI), Tahir Majid Shamsi who was representing the Centre told the high court that Mufti's proposal was going to be rejected since her departure "is likely to, be detrimental to the security of India."

Shamsi further added that her plea in the high court could be dismissed since Mufti could appeal against the local authority's decision before the joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs.

Delay in issuing passport results in restraining one from travelling abroad: Mufti to HC

Mufti's plea in the high court submitted that the delay in issuing a passport, which in turn resulted in "restraining" her from travelling abroad was not only illegal but also violated fundamental rights.

"Passport Office refused to issue my passport based on CID's report citing it as 'detrimental' to the security of India. This is the level of normalcy achieved in Kashmir since Aug 2019 that an ex-Chief Minister holding a passport is a threat to the sovereignty of a mighty nation," Mufti tweeted soon after.

Today, Mufti tweeted that the government had also refused her mother Gulshan Nazir's passport application. "Passport office has also rejected my mother's passport application. CID claims that my mother who is well into her seventies is a 'threat to national security' & therefore doesn't deserve a passport. GOI is employing absurd methods to harass & punish me for not toeing their line," her tweet read.

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