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A special court today rapped passport authorities for “sitting over” matters relating to impounding of or releasing passports and directed them to fix a time-frame to decide on such issues.

“I am constrained to remind the concerned passport authorities that in all such cases they are duty bound to proceed further in the matter as per law i.E. Either to proceed to impound the passport or not to impound it. They however cannot simply sit over the matter,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said.

His observations came during the hearing of a coal scam case involving Madhya Pradesh-based company Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL) in which it had issued a show cause notice on December 15 last year to Passport Officer, Bhopal for adopting lackadaisical attitude on the application of accused Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia seeking return of his passport.

“It is thus incumbent of all the passport authorities to lay down specific time-frame during which necessary action in any matter, be it impounding or release of passport or any other proceedings, are carried out by the concerned officers lest the public at large is made to run here and there or approach the courts of law,” the court said.

It also noted that if passport authorities find that no action needs to be initiated at their end then at least they can return the passport back to the concerned agency.

The court withdrew the show cause notice issued to the Passport Officer, Bhopal after a reply was filed through his counsel submitting that an explanation has been sought from the officer who failed to make proper submissions before the court on the issue during an earlier hearing.

The court further directed the Passport Officer, Bhopal to ensure that whenever any officer is deputed to attend the court proceedings, proper submissions should be made before it

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