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What is a Passport?
Passport is a travel document, usually issued by a country’s government to its citizens. It certifies the identity and nationality of its holder primarily for the purpose of international travel.
In India, the passport is issued by the Ministry of External Affair (MEA) to the citizens of India. It enables the bearer to travel internationally and is also a proof of Citizenship under the Passports Act, 1967.
Section 6 of the Passport Act, 1967 provides for the grounds on which a passport can be refused by the Passport Authority.
- The applicant is likely to engage in activities abroad that will pose a threat to sovereignty and integrity of India.
- The applicant may engage in activities which will adversely affect the internal security of India.
- The applicant’s presence could affect the friendly relations of the country with India.
- The Central Government is of the view that presence of such an applicant abroad is against public interest.
- In the five years preceding the date of his application, the applicant has been convicted by a court in India for an offence where he or she demonstrated lack of morality and was sentenced to at least two years of imprisonment.
- Criminal proceedings against the applicant are pending before a Court in India.
- An arrest warrant or a warrant or summons for appearance has been issued by a court under any law in India, or a court order prohibiting the departure of the applicant from India has been made.
- The applicant was sent back to India from a foreign country and has not reimbursed the expenditure for the same.
In general quite a few applications for an Indian Passport are rejected. This is not because a passport comes with a special eligibility criterion, it’s mainly a result of some common errors and special situations. However it has been seen that in certain cases the passport application of the applicant/person is not processed by the embassy or competent authority within a specific time duration but is instead kept under process for a prolonged period of time without giving any fair/just explanation for the same. The most common reply given by the embassies for not processing the application of the applicant is that they have not got the necessary clearances from the competent authority and thus the application of the applicant is under process and is pending due to the requirement of necessary clearance from India.
The Appellate Authority under the Passports Act, 1967 is the Central Passport Organization, a subordinate office of the Ministry of External Affairs, headed by Joint Secretary and Chief Passport Officer.
- An appeal can be made against the order of the Passport Authority or any other body to which the Passport body is subordinate to by an aggrieved person. This can be made under Section 11 of the Passport Act, 1967. An appeal against an order made by the Central Government is not permitted.
- An appeal made after the expiry of the prescribed period is not admissible unless the appellant satisfies the appellate authority that he had sufficient reason for not preferring an appeal within that period.
- In order to file an appeal under this section a petition must be made in writing and is accompanied by a a copy of the statement of the reasons for the order appealed against where such copy has been furnished to the appellant.
- The appellate authority has to follow the prescribed procedure. No appeal is disposed of until the appellant is given a reasonable opportunity of presenting his or her case.
- An order of the appellate authority confirming, modifying or reversing the order appealed against is final.
In case an appeal has been filed under Section 11 of the Passport Act against the appellate authority against grounds mentioned under Section 6 of the Passport Act and has been dismissed, a writ petition can be filed in the High Court regarding the same under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India.
Write petition against refusal of Passport
The Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Manjit Kaur Dhaliwal vs Union Of India & Anr (2019) held that an appeal under Section 11 of the Passport Act, 1967 must be filed before invoking the Jurisdiction of the High Court through a writ petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India.
Delay in grant of Passport by Appellate Authority
It was held by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Dharam Singh vs Passport Seva Kendra Jalandhar (15 July, 2019) that if the Passport Appellate Authority has approved the grant of the Passport and delay is caused by the Passport Office, the petitioner can approach the Court by filing a writ petition. The Court can direct the Passport Office to take action within a limited time period.
It has been seen in a number of cases that sometimes the NRI’s face extreme difficulties in getting their passport renewed due to the non clearance being given by the competent authority and thus the applications for renewal of the passport are kept pending for months/years and as result undue harassment is faced by the NRI’s. Thus it is imperative to follow the proper legal procedure/channel to get your passport renewed within a specific time frame.