Inside Kashmir

Mehbooba moves HC for renewal of passport

Srinagar: The former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti has approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court (HC), seeking intervention in the issuance of her passport, which she alleged was not happening because of delay in police verification.

In her plea before the court, Mehbooba said that her passport was valid till May 31, 2019, and she had applied for its renewal before the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, on December 11, 2020.

She said that the passport as per the instruction manual was expected to be dispatched within 30 days. However, she said that the passport was not renewed because the police verification was still pending. “I submitted a representation to the concerned police officer urging police verification report be forwarded to the RPO so that there is no delay in issuance of the passport,” the former chief minister said.

Ms Mehbooba said that despite representation, it appears from the record that ADGP CID for ‘unknown reasons’ has not forwarded the police verification report to RPO.

The PDP chief urged the court to direct the concerned official for issuance of passport expeditiously, which is the fundamental right of the petitioner and guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

She also sought directions from the court, declaring the action of officials not allowing her to travel abroad as ‘illegal and unconstitutional, violating her fundamental right to travel abroad as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Meanwhile, Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, B B Nagar said that his office had processed the renewal application of Ms Mehbooba within two days of receiving it. “Once we receive an application for a passport, my office processes it in the shortest period of time,” Mr Nagar told UNI.

He said the passport of Ms Mehbooba was not issued as the police verification was still pending. “We have to follow all the rules and regulations for the issuance of a passport. It is mandated by the rules that we receive police verification of a person before issuing a passport in his or her favour,” he added.

Ms Mehbooba was released from detention in October 2020 after the J&K administration revoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) charges against her. Ms Mehbooba, former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, besides scores of mainstream politicians, including former ministers and MLAs, and social activists were places under detention on August 5, 2019, when the centre abrogated Article 370 and Article 35 A and divided the state into two Union Territories.

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