Chennai, March 3 (PTI) The Madras High Court has directed the Regional Passport Authority (RPA) here to issue a passport with 10 years validity to Karti Chidambaram, the Congress MP from Sivaganga and son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram.
Justice M Govindaraj issued the directive while allowing a writ petition from Karti, recently. The petition sought to quash the orders dated April 8, 2021 and August 24, 2021 of the RPA turning down his plea and consequently direct him to re-issue a passport with additional pages, valid for 10 years.
Originally, when the pages in his passport, valid till March 5, 2024 got exhausted, Karti applied for an additional booklet. But it was rejected by the RPA by the two orders. Instead, the authority issued the passport valid till March 4, 2022.
In support of his action, the RPA submitted that as per the new Regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the validity of a passport cannot be manually extended. The validity of a new passport has to be determined independently without considering the validity of the old passport.
Relying on Sec 6(2) (f) of Passports Act,1967 read with a notification dated August 25, 1993, the RPA said that when a criminal case is pending, the notification will continue to apply and the authorities under the Act are empowered to shorten the validity of the passport to one year.
Petitioner’s senior counsel P Wilson contended that the authority cannot shorten the duration or validity of the passport without following the mandates of Sections 7 and 10 of the Passport Act. Karti is a Member of the Parliament and he has not violated any condition imposed on him. The RPA has not produced any materials to show that he was compelled to take action against Karti. In that event the exercise of power without taking recourse to Sec 7 or 10 of the Act cannot be sustained, Wilson added.
Allowing the petition, the judge held that the RPA cannot shorten the duration or validity of the passport without following the mandate of Sections 7 and 10 of the Act. No material was placed by the RPA to prove that Karti had breached any condition imposed on him. There was nothing to show that his conduct may affect the sovereignty and integrity or security or friendly relations of India or in the public interest.
Therefore, in the considered opinion of the court, the impugned action of the RPA in shortening the period of validity of the passport by two years is in violation of Section 7, done without taking recourse to Sec. 10 of the Act.
No reasons are recorded and it is in violation of the principles of natural justice. Hence, it is not sustainable in law and accordingly, the same is set aside, the judge said and directed the RPA to reissue a passport with the existing period of validity or for ten years as per Rule 12 of the Rules and Regulations of International Civil Aviation Organization, forthwith. PTI CORR SA SA
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Source: The Print