The Petitioner was married to Ms Neha Ahuja in 2012. After some time he and his wife had matrimonial disputes and started living separately in the U.S.A. During the matrimonial proceedings, In September 2019 the petitioner was informed that his passport (No. M – 4819805) has been suspended by the Indian Consulate in Houston, U.S.A, pursuant to a complaint filed by his wife. After knowing this, the petitioner emailed the Regional Passport Office Kozhikode and then Indian Consulate, Houston, USA. But he did not get any reply so he filed a petition on 15.10.2021. But this also was not processed and was in defects as the copy of the passport denial order was not available with him. Then the process of sending emails went on. Lastly, the petitioner prayed for quashing the impugned order dated 08.05.2020 and for restoration of the Petitioner’s passport.
Notice in the petition was issued on 08.12.2020, on which date time was given to the Respondents to file their counter-affidavits. To date, neither the counter-affidavits nor any documents have been filed on record by the Respondents.
The learned CGSC representing the respondents claimed that it is clearly written in the order that the Petitioner has been permitted to apply afresh for his passport and the same would be considered expeditiously.
Further Mr Digpaul claims that the order of suspension has been passed under Section 10A of The Passports Act, 1967. The proceedings were commenced and an email was written to the Petitioner on 05.11.2018. However, none of these facts is on record either on affidavit or through documents.
The learned counsel representing the petitioner claims that the email dated 05.11.2018 did not mention any action proposed to be taken for the suspension of the petitioner’s passport.
The petitioner further claims that due to the suspension of the passport he could not visit his old age mother residing in Bengaluru. And also suspension of the passport has affected his professional life as could not travel. From this, it is clear that the petitioner was suffering immensely both personally and professionally due to the suspension of his passport.
The learned counsel submits that due to the pandemic, the file of this case is also not available and so he could not place any documents on record.
The court after seeing the situation of the petitioner ordered the Indian Consulate to provide him with a new passport and other rules were laid down by the court. Lastly, the court said that a copy of the passport issued shall also be placed on record before the next date of hearing.
The Court issued that the impugned order dated 08.05.2020, as also the alleged suspension order dated 17.09.2018, shall remain stayed. Further, the Petitioner shall apply within a period of two days for a fresh passport to the Consulate General of India in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. The passport issued to the petitioner on or before 15.05.2021. And if there are any defects in the application, subject to the Petitioner furnishing an undertaking that the defects would be rectified within a specified period, the passport shall be issued.
If there are no defects, the passport shall be issued for the period sought for in the application. If there are any defects, the passport shall be issued with a validity period of one year. A copy of the passport issued shall also be placed on record before the next date of hearing. The Passport Office shall communicate the order passed today to all the relevant authorities so that the order suspending the Petitioner’s passport does not act as an impediment to the Petitioner travelling on the new passport.
The travel of the Petitioner shall be subject to any international restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the issuance of the passport shall not, in any manner, be delayed due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
If the passport of the Petitioner is not issued in terms of the directions issued above, for any grounds that are not valid, the concerned officers at the office of the Consulate General of India in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. and in the Regional Passport Office in India would be liable to be held personally responsible.
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