ALERT FOR NRI‘s : INDIAN PASSPORT CAN BE IMPOUNDED BY PASSPORT AUTHORITIES AS PER SECTION 10(3)(h)
IN A MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES OR OTHERWISE YOUR INDIAN PASSPORT CAN BE IMPOUNDED BY PASSPORT AUTHORITIES AS PER SECTION 10(3)(h) OF PASSPORTS ACT IF YOU HAVE BEEN DECLARED A PROCLAIMED OFFENDER (P.O) IN A PENDING CASE
Nowadays many cases are being seen in which Passport Authorities have started impounding the passports in case a person has been declared Proclaimed offender by any Court of law in any case. However, such impounding cannot be ordered without giving such a person an opportunity of fair hearing. One of our clients who has a matrimonial case pending against him in an Indian court, the Passport office has impounded his passport only on the basis of pendency of a criminal case.
The action of the passport officer is very harsh seeing the ground realities with which our society face in the present times. It has been experienced and also commented upon by our Hon’ble supreme court of India in a number of cases that many matrimonial litigations are based on exaggerated facts and are also ulteriorly motivated. The lawyers practising in the field of matrimonial law know from their daily basis experience that the causes of breakdown of marriages are usually not what are projected in many cases, which result into false prosecution. Impounding of a passport specially in cases of matrimonial litigation, where the husband has still to adopt his legal remedies to prove his innocence is too harsh an action on the part of the passport office.
As an alternative other means can be adopted to ensure that the rights of the estranged wife is protected and also the facts of each case should be gone into by the passport office to reach to a conclusion that impounding of passport is the only last resort and the facts and circumstances warrant passing of such orders.
Section 10(3) of Passport Act, 1967 provides theconditions in which a passport may be impounded, like under Sub-section (a) under wrongful possession; (b) when it is obtained through fraud or misrepresentation; (c) if the Passport Office deems it necessary, for preserving friendly relations with other nation states; (d) when a holder of a passport has been convicted of a crime carrying imprisonment over 2 years; (e) when there is an ongoing criminal proceeding against the holder of that passport; (f) if any conditions of issue of passport has been contravened; (g) failure of complying against notice served under sub-section (1); (h) when it is brought to the notice of the Passport office that a warrant for arrest or an issue of summons has been made against the holder of such passport.
Full text of sub-section (h) of section 10(3) is as follows:
Variation, impounding and revocation of passports and travel documents.—
(3)The passport authority may impound or cause to be impounded or revoke a passport or travel document, —
(h)if it is brought to the notice of the passport authority that a warrant or summons for the appearance, or a warrant for the arrest, of the holder of the passport or travel document has been issued by a court under any law for the time being in force or if an order prohibiting the departure from India of the holder of the passport or other travel document has been made by any such court and the passport authority is satisfied that a warrant or summons has been so issued or an order has been so made.