Reissue passport to evangelist, HC judge grsj tells authorities

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Reissue passport to evangelist, HC tells authorities

Madurai: Observing that the right to travel abroad is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution, the Madras high court has directed the authorities to reissue passport to evangelist Mohan C Lazarus.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Lazarus, who sought to reissue his passport as his old passport was damaged. When the authorities called for a police verification report, it came to be known that Lazarus was involved in as many as four criminal cases. Since the petitioner had suppressed the information about the cases, the authorities had rejected his application.

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Justice G R Swaminathan observed that an applicant is said to commit an offence under Section 12 of the Passports Act, 1967 if he suppresses any material information with a view to obtain a passport. He is not obliged to make any disclosure as regards those cases that are pending at the FIR stage, however, he is bound to give the details if the criminal case had been taken on file by the jurisdictional criminal court.
The judge noted that in the case on hand, out of the four criminal cases, one had already been taken on file. The judge observed that when the act of the applicant prima facie amounted to an offence, the order passed by the passport authorities was justified in rejecting the petitioner’s request. Hence, the judge held that the order passed by the authorities cannot be faulted and it is valid.

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The judge observed that it cannot be the end of the matter as right to travel abroad is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution as held by the Supreme Court. The judge said that the right to go abroad is in an area falling within the right to privacy as held in Aadhaar judgment by the Supreme Court.
By applying the aforesaid yardstick and taking into account that the petitioner does not represent flight-risk as he had travelled to foreign countries on several occasions and never overstayed, the judge directed the petitioner to submit a fresh application and further directed the authorities to reissue passport within three weeks.

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