Passport May Be Impound
A passport is a document of identity, it is a prima facie evidence of nationality, in modern times it not only controls exit from the State to which one belongs, but without it, with a few exceptions, it is not possible to enter another State – It has become a condition for free travel.
What is impound ?
The word “impound” has been defined to mean “to take possession of a document or thing for being held in custody in accordance with law”. Thus, the word “impounding” really means retention of possession of an honest or a document which has been seized.
There is a difference between seizing of a document and impounding a document. A seizure is formed at a specific moment when an individual or authority takes into his possession some property which was earlier not in his possession. Thus, seizure is completed at a specific moment of your time. However, if after seizing of a property or document the said property or document is retained for a few period of your time , then such retention amounts to impounding of the property/or document.
Power of Passport Authority –
The Passport Authority may impound or cause to be impounded a passport under certain circumstances. Section 10(3) of the Act reads as follows :
“The Passport Authority may impound or cause to be impounded or revoke a passport or travel document,
(a) if the Passport Authority is satisfied that the holder of the passport or travel document is in wrongful possession thereof;
(b) if the passport or travel document was obtained by the suppression of cloth information or on the thought of wrong information provided by the holder of the passport or travel document or the other person on his behalf. [Provided that if the holder of such passport obtains another passport, the Passport Authority shall also impound or cause to be impounded or revoke such other passport.]
(c) if the Passport Authority deems it necessary so to undertake to within the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or within the interests of the overall public;
(d) if the holder of the passport or travel document has, at any time after the problem of the passport or travel document, been convicted by a Court in India for any offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced in respect thereof to imprisonment for not but two years;
(e) if proceedings in respect of an offence imagined to are committed by the holder of the passport or travel document are pending before a court in India;
(f) if any of the conditions of the passport or travel document has been contravened;
(g) if the holder of the passport or travel document has did not suits a notice under Sub-Section (1) requiring him to deliver up the same;
(h) if it’s delivered to the notice of the Passport Authority that a warrant or summons for the looks , or a warrant for the arrest, of the holder of the passport or travel document has been issued by a Court under any law for the nonce effective or if an order prohibiting the departure from India of the holder of the passport or other travel document has been made by any such Court and thus the Passport Authority is satisfied that a warrant or summons has been so issued or an order has been so made.”
Court can’t impound the passport –
The Supreme Court held that the Passports Act, 1967 being a legislative Act, the provisions therein would prevail over Section 104 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which confers general power upon the Court to impound any document. The Court also acknowledged the excellence between the mere seizure of a passport and therefore the impounding of an equivalent. A seizure is formed at a specific moment, when somebody takes into possession of some property. However, if the seized property is retained for a few period of your time, the retention amounts to impounding. Therefore, the Supreme Court acknowledged that while the Police may have the facility to seize a passport under Section 102 of the Code, if it’s permissible within the authority given therein, it doesn’t have the facility to retain or impound an equivalent. The Court also indicated that the instant the Police seizes a passport under Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code; they need to send it alongside a letter to the Passport Authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for want of reasons mentioned in Section 10(3). It is thereafter for the Passport Authority to make a decision what to try to. Even while taking a choice, the Passport Authority is to offer a chance of hearing. What is important within the aforesaid decision is that in paragraph 15, the Court indicated that even the Court cannot impound a passport despite the enabling provision in Section 104 of the Code.
Police can only seize the passport –
While the police may have power to seize a passport under Section 102 Criminal Procedure Code if it’s permissible within the authority given under Section 102 of Criminal Procedure Code, it doesn’t have power to retain or impound an equivalent , because which will only be done by the passport authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act. Hence, if the police seize a passport (which it’s power to try to under Section 102 Criminal Procedure Code), thereafter the police must send it alongside a letter to the passport authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one among the explanations mentioned in Section 10(3) of the Act. It’s thereafter the passport authority to make a decision whether to impound the passport or not. Since impounding of a passport has civil consequences, the passport authority must give a chance of hearing to the person concerned before impounding his passport.
The Police and court have no power to retain or impound the passports for the reason that the passports can be impounded only by the Passport Authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act. Therefore, if the police seizes a passport, thereafter they must send it along with a letter to the Passport Authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one of the reasons mentioned in section 10(3) of the Act. It is thereafter for the Passport Authority to decide whether to impound the passport or not. Since impounding of the passport has civil consequences, the Passport Authority must give an opportunity of hearing to the petitioners concerned before impounding their passports. The Passports Act is a special law while the Cr.P.C. is a general law. It is also well settled that the special law prevails over the general law.