The Supreme Court observed that renewal of passport cannot be refused merely on the ground of pendency of criminal appeal.
The applicant was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 120-B,420, 468, 471, 477 A of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 13 (2) read with Section 13 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The appeal filed by him was dismissed by the High Court. However, the sentence was reduced to a period of one year. The appeal against the High Court judgment is pending consideration before the Apex Court.
He filed an application before the Passport authority seeking renewal of passport. He was orally informed that the renewal of the passport was not being done due to the pendency of the criminal appeal before the Supreme Court.
Therefore, by filing a interlocutory application, he approached the Apex Court seeking a direction to the CBI to give no objection for renewal of his passport which expired on 12.11.2017. The CBI opposed the plea and submitted that renewal of passport can be only after application obtains permission from the concerned trial court. They referred to the following clauses of Section 6.2 of the Passport Act, 1967 to contend that the passport authority has the power to refuse issuance of the passport in view of the pendency of the criminal appeal filed by him.
(e) that the applicant has, at any time during the period of five years immediately preceding the date of his application, been convicted by a court in India for any offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced in respect thereof to imprisonment for not less than two years;
(f) that proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending before a criminal court in India;
Referring to these provisions, the bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai observed:
“The refusal of a passport can be only in case where an applicant is convicted during the period of 5 years immediately proceeding the date of application for an offence involving moral turpitude and sentence for imprisonment for not less than two years. Section 6.2 (f) relates to a situation where the applicant is facing trial in a criminal court. Admittedly, at present, the conviction of the appellant stands still the disposal of the criminal appeal. The sentence which he has to undergo is for a period of one year. The passport authority cannot refuse the renewal of the passport on the ground of pendency of the criminal appeal.”
The court therefore directed the passport authority to renew the passport of the applicant without raising the objection relating to the pendency of the criminal appeal.
Case name and Citation: Vangala Kasturi Rangacharyulu vs. CBI LL 2021 SC 533
Case no. and date: CrA 1342/2017 | 27 September 2021
Coram: Justices L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai