V.K. Jhanji, J.
1. Simranjit Singh Mann, who has recently been elected as Member of Parliament from Sangrur Parliamentary Constituency with a margin of more than 87,000 votes, applied to the Regional Passport Officer, Chandigarh (for short the RPO hereinafter) in the year 1990 for issuance of a Passport. For three years, the application for grant of passport was not decided and that led to the filing of Civil writ petition No. 14143 of 1993 in this court seeking a writ of Mandamus directing the RPO to decide the application for issuance of passport. This Court directed the RPO to decide the application of the petitioner for grant of passport. In pursuance of order passed by this Court, RPO vide order dated 25.8.1993 informed the petitioner that it has been decided to refuse passport facility to him under section 6(2) (b) and (c) read with Section 5(2) of the Passports Act, 1967 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Petitioner was also informed that in case he so wished, he may file appeal against the order with the Joint Secretary (CFV) & Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs, Patiala House Annexe, Tilak Marg, New Delhi (hereinafter referred to as CPO) within 30 days from the date of receipt of letter by him.
2. Petitioner filed appeal against order dated 25.8.1993 with the CPO but he refused to entertain the appeal on the ground that the order impugned gives no ground of rejection and the petitioner was asked to seek grounds of rejection from the RPO. Petitioner asked for grounds of rejection from the RPO who in turn informed him that the order of rejection for issuance of passport facilities has been passed by the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, and the matter in question has been referred to the Ministry. Petitioner was told that he shall be informed on the subject as and when something is heard from the headquarter. Therefore nothing was heard and that” led to filing of another Civil Writ Petition No. 15490 of 1995 by the petitioner in which he made a prayer that the RPO may be directed to supply him grounds of rejection. Upon notice of the writ petition, counsel appearing on behalf of Union of India stated that there are no other grounds of rejection except those supplied in order dated 25.8.1993. Because of the statement made by counsel for Union of India, Division Bench of this Court, on November 14, 1995 directed the Appellate Authority to treat order dated 25.8.1993 to be the impugned order and not insist on any other further reasons for rejecting the application for grant of passport. It was also directed that the appeal be decided within three months. In pursuance of order dated 14.11.1995 of Division Bench of this Court, petitioner filed another appeal before the CPO which was dismissed vide order dated 29.2.1996. Petitioner challenged the order passed in appeal in this Court by way of Civil Writ Petition No. 4491 of 1996 and one of his grievances was that the CPO dismissed his appeal without giving an opportunity of hearing to him. This Court allowed the petition and set aside the order passed by the CPO and directed that the appeal of the petitioner be decided after giving him an opportunity of hearing.
3. Pursuant to order passed in CWP No. 4491 of 1996, petitioner appeared through his counsel before the CPO and vide order dated 23.6.1998, the CPO upheld order dated 25.8.1993 passed by the RPO refusing passport facility to the petitioner under Section 6(2) (b) and (c) read with Section 5(2) of the Act. The main ground which seems to have prevailed with the CPO to reject the appeal was that six cases were pending against the petitioner. Details of six cases given therein are as follows :-
1. FIR No. 307/85 dated 6.6.1985 Under Section 124-A, IPC and 9 of Punjab Security Act, 1953 at Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi.
2. FIR No. 297/91 dated 7.4.1991 Under Section 124-A of IPC and 4(2) TADA, PS Parliament Street.
3. FIR No. 71 dated 11.9.1992 Under Section 123/124-A/153/309 IPC and 3/4 TDA (P) Act, PS Dehlon, PS Jagraon. Distt, Ludhiana.
4. FIR No. 32 dated 29.4.1994 Under Section 124-A/153-B, IPC, PS Talwandi Sabo, Distt. Bhatinda.
5. FIR No. 2 dated 4.1.1995 Under Section 353 186 and 506, IPC PS Sirhind. Distt. Fatehgarh Sahib.
6. FIR No. 105 dated 28.9.1995 Under Section 188 IPC, PS North, Sector 3, Chandigarh
4. Because of the criminal cases pending against the petitioner, the CPO was of the view that restoration of passport facility to the petitioner is likely to be detrimental to the security of India and that the petitioner may or is likely to engage outside India in activities prejudicial to the unity and integrity of India.
5. In this writ petition, challenge is to orders dated 25.8.1993 and 23.6.1998 passed by the RPO and the CPO respectively. The challenge is on the ground that order dated 25.8.1993 passed by the RPO gives no ground to deny passport facility to the petitioner because it only states that the passport facility has been refused under Section 6(2) (b) and (c) read with Section 5(2) of the Act. It is also contended that counsel appearing on behalf of Union of India, in response to notice in CWP No. 15490 of 1995 decided on 14.11.1995, had given a statement that reason for rejection for grant of passport are stated only in order dated 25.8.1993 and there are no other reasons. It is contended that the reasons now put forth by the CPO in rejecting the appeal were not the reason when the RPO rejected the application of the petitioner for grant of facility of passport to him It is further contended that mere pendency of criminal cases against the applicant cannot be a ground for refusing to grant facility of passport particularly when there is no order of any Court asking the petitioner not to leave the country without the permission of the court.
6. On the other hand, learned counsel appearing on behalf of Union of India has contended that CPO has taken into consideration not only the pendency of criminal cases against the petitioner but also the reports of the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence. Punjab and S.S.P. Patiala wherein they had asked the RPO that the petitioner be not granted passport facility because he may indulge in anti-national activities in other countries as the petitioner is likely to propagate anti India propaganda after going abroad. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of Union of India has also contended that Under Clause (f) of sub-section (2) to Section 6 of the Act, passport facility can be denied if the proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending in a criminal Court in India. It is contended that the order of the CPO can be taken to be under clause (f) of sub-section (2) of Section of the Act.
7. The grant of facility of passport to the petitioner has been rejected under Section 6(2) (b) and (c) read with Section 5(2)(c) of the Act. For facility of reference, these sections are reproduced hereunder:-
“5(2) On receipt of an application under this Section, the Passport Authority, after making such inquiry, if any, as it may consider necessary, shall subject to the provisions of this Act. by order in writing:-
(a) xxx xxx xxx (b) xxx xxx xxx (c) refuse to issue the passport or travel document of, as the case may be, refuse to make on the passport or travel document any endorsement. 6(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, the passport authority shall refuse to issue a passport or travel document for visiting any foreign country under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 5 on no one or more of the following grounds and on no other ground, namely :- (a) xxx xxx xxx (b) that the applicant may, or is likely to, engage outside India in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India. (c) that the departure of the applicant from India may, or is likely to, be detrimental to the security of India;" (d) xxx xxx xxx (e) xxx xxx xxx (f) that proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the applicant are pending before a criminal court in India."
8. Before making an order under Section 5(2)(c) of the Act, the passport authority has to be satisfied from the material placed before it as to whether the applicant may or is likely to engage outside India in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India and the departure of the applicant from India may, or is likely to be detrimental to the security of India. In the written statement filed by the respondents, it is stated that the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, Punjab and the S.S.P Patiala had asked the RPO not to issue passport to the petitioner because he may indulge in anti national activities in other countries but it has not been shown as to the basis on which direction came to be passed. The material which may have been in possession of the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, Punjab or the S.S.P Patiala while asking the RPO that the passport facility be not given to the petitioner has not been placed on record nor any reference in this regard has been made in the written statement. It is worth noticing that when the petitioner asked the RPO to give him grounds of rejection of his application he was told vide letter dated 4.11.1993 (Annexure P-2) by the RPO that “since the order of rejection for issuance of passport facilities had been passed by the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, matter in question had been referred to the Ministry. You will be informed on the subject as and when something is heard from headquarters.” Reading of letter clearly shows that order of rejection was not passed by the passport authority but was passed by some one in Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs meaning thereby that the order was not passed by the authority empowered under the Act.
9. As regards the contention that the passport authority is competent to deny the facility of passport because of pendency of criminal cases, it only to be stated that the application of the petitioner for issuance of passport has not been rejected on the ground that the proceedings in respect of offence alleged to have been committed by the petitioner are pending in Criminal Court. The case of the respondents is that the application has been rejected on the grounds mentioned in clauses (b) and (c) of sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Act and not under clause (f). More so criminal cases referred to above relate to the years 1985 to 1995 and in all these cases, the prosecution is yet to lead evidence and so far conviction has not been recorded in any of the cases. Petitioner is a Member of Parliament and has been elected by a majority of more than 87,000 votes and having taken oath in presence of the Speaker of Lok Sabha to the effect that he shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and that he shall uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and that he shall faithfully discharge the duty conferred upon him, cannot be denied facility of passport.
10. Consequently, orders dated 25.8.1993 and 23.6.1998 passed by the RPO and the CPO respectively being unsustainable in law are hereby quashed and the writ petition is allowed. The RPO is directed to issue passport to the petitioner within a week from the submission of application by the petitioner in the prescribed form along with a certified copy of order of this Court. No costs.