Investigating agency can seize passport but cannot retain or impound it: J&K High Court

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Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh recently observed that though investigating agencies are entitled to seize passports during a criminal investigation, they have no power to impound or retain the same in their custody Madhu Bakshi V/S Anti Corruption Bureau Kashmir.

Justice Sanjay Dhar pointed out that only the Passport Authority can impound or retain passports under Section 10(3) of the Passport Act, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Suresh Nanda vs. Central Bureau of Investigation.

“If the police seizes a passport, which it has power to do under Section 102 of Cr. P.C, the same must be sent 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 Passports Act, whereafter the Passport Authority would decide whether or not to impound the passport,” Justice Dhar explained.

The High Court was hearing petitions filed by Raj Singh Gehlot and Aman Gehlot, who are among those accused in a bank fraud case. The two were accused of misappropriating ₹35 crores out of a ₹100 crore loan.

While conducting a search at the residence of the accused, the anti-corruption bureau seized their passports, which were later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is now probing the case.

After the Additional Special Judge, Anti-Corruption at Srinagar dismissed their pleas to release the passport, the two accused moved the High Court for relief.

The High Court noted that the investigating agency did not forward the passports of the accused to the Passport authority after their seizure for impounding them.

The Court was also told that the CBI would abide by any orders issued by the High Court and that they would not object to the petitions by the accused for the release of the passport.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the petitions and directed release of the passports of the two accused.(CNI) Current News of India

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