Every citizen has a fundamental right to go abroad and have a passport issued in his name, the Delhi High Court has observed while directing the Centre to re-issue passport to a man, who had lost it thrice. A bench of Justice Manmohan directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the regional office concerned to re-issue passport in favour of petitioner A Vikash.
The bench, however, asked Vikash to pay Rs 50,000 to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital here, apparently as charity, observing that he has been negligent in taking care of his passport. “Having heard counsel for petitioner and having perused the paper book, this court is of the view that every citizen has a fundamental right to travel abroad and to have a passport issued in his name,” it said. “Consequently, present writ petition and application are allowed and respondents are directed to re-issue passport in favour of the petitioner or in alternative issue fresh passport in favour of the petitioner,” the court said.
“Since the petitioner’s brother is also stated to be settled in Australia, this court is of the view that not issuing a passport to the petitioner would amount to violation of his fundamental right,” the bench said. The court also noted that no material has been placed on record to show that there was any mala fide intent on the part of the petitioner.
According to the petitioner, he lost his passport thrice and was issued a fourth one by the regional office. He, however, returned it to the office in a damaged condition. He told the court that he had not intentionally misplaced or damaged his passport and had peacefully visited various foreign countries for short terms for recreational purposes on visitor visas. The MEA, however, opposed the petition contending that the petitioner has failed to keep a valuable government document safely.
The bench did not accept the contentions of the MEA saying, “In the present case, no material has been placed on record to show that there was any mala fide intent on the part of the petitioner. No incident or event showing misuse of any of the lost/damaged passport has been placed on record.”