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Pendency of a Criminal Case not a Handicap to Travel Abroad

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Fundamental rights are the basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution of India which are guaranteed to all citizens. They are applied without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc. Articles 12-35 of Indian Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights.

Most important Fundamental Right which has been described by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India as “Heart of the Fundamental Rights” is enshrined in Article 21 which provides for “Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

In the landmark case of Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramarathnam, Assistant Passport Officer, AIR 1967 SC 1836 it has been said by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that Right to Travel Abroad is part of Article 21 and hence, it cannot be taken away by the State on arbitrary grounds.

QUESTION: Many times, it has been seen that people approach Our Firm asking that if any case is pending against them then Can they travel Abroad? Or Can they get Passport in such a scenario i.e. when a case is pending against them?

The ANSWER is YES. Since Right to Hold a Passport is also a fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as Passport is an official Government document that enables an individual to travel internationally and also serves as a proof of identity and citizenship, in some cases.

So, passport Authorities cannot reject your Passport Application arbitrarily on the ground that a criminal case is pending against you, if you have disclosed about it in your application. Also, if you already have a passport, then without obtaining the permission of the Court where the case is pending, you cannot travel abroad, so, if your case is pending in Sessions Court then permission from Sessions Judge, if your case is pending in High Court then permission from High Court, if your case is pending in Supreme Court of India, then permission from Supreme Court should be obtained. In this application for permission, Hon’ble Court can ask you to give proper details of your travel, boarding and lodging and also, ask you to fill surety bonds so that your presence can be secured at the time of trial or pending appeal.

In the case of Anil Rai v. CBI (Delhi), 2008, while grating permission to travel abroad and imposing additional surety bond on the petitioner, Hon’ble Delhi High Court has asked the petitioner to submit all the details to Trial Court and said that,

7. In view of the aforesaid, the present petitions are allowed and the condition imposed in impugned orders in these three petitions, of petitioner "not leaving India without permission of the court" is substituted with the modified direction of petitioner informing the trial court, a week in advance, of his visit abroad and the petitioner shall furnish the complete itinerary i.e. stating the country/countries which is/are to be visited by him and the period of his visit and the address/addresses where he would be staying and his contact number. Petitioner would be also obliged to indicate the Airport from where he would be boarding and de-boarding. Not only this, the petitioner shall also inform the trial court in writing about his return to India within a week thereof. Petitioner is directed to furnish aforesaid undertaking on affidavit to the trial court and also state on affidavit that he would not undertake a foreign visit on the effective dates of hearing in the trial court i.e. when the evidence in this case is being recorded.”


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