Iltija Mufti, daughter of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, has filed a writ petition before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir seeking directions to the passport officer Srinagar to issue her passport. In her petition, she says, the delay in issuing her passport by the passport officer Srinagar amounts to restraining her from travelling abroad.
She described the delay as illegal and unconstitutional and says it is violating her fundamental rights to travel abroad as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Iltija says she was issued a passport valid up to January 2, 2023. As her passport was due to expire, she applied for the issuance of a passport before the passport officer against proper receipt.
On June 8, 2022, the petitioner in her petition says, her application was received. The passport as per the instruction manual is expected to be dispatched within 30 days. The petitioner says after the receipt of the application, “complete in all respects” the passport officer sought police verification from the ADGP CID. She says in order to verify the status of her application, she visited the website and it was noticed by her that the status of her application is shown as “pending for physical police verification at respective Thana under SP District Budgam”.
The petitioner says she immediately filed a representation before the ADGP CID. She says it appears that the ADGP CID submitted the police verification showing as “passport application is under review at the Regional Passport Office”.
She says the inaction on the part of the passport office is not countenanced by law. “It is submitted here that administrative delay is a facet of arbitrariness and against the rule of law. As the law does not recognize unfettered discretion, the decision on the application of the petitioner cannot be left to the caprice of the passport officer,” the petition reads.
It is for this reason, the passport as per the Instruction Manual is expected to be dispatched within approximately 30 days. In the present case, the petition says, the passport officer, has not issued her passport. She says inaction on the part of the passport officer is discriminatory in nature and unconstitutional.
She argues she has a right to hold a passport in terms of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner says the delay in issuing a passport is an act that is in conformity with the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Passport Act. She adds that the delay in issuing the passport in her favour has the effect of imposing restrictions on her rights vested upon her by the Constitution of India, which guarantees her freedom to travel abroad. She says she requires a passport immediately as she intends to pursue a degree in Sustainable Development outside the country.
She says the delay in issuing her passport is restraining her from travelling abroad and it is not only illegal but violates with impunity the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. She says she requested the passport officer to expedite her application for the issuance of the passport. The request has been sent through E-mail. “Despite representation, no action has been taken,” she says, adding this has left her with no other alternative but to approach the Court.