Every citizen has right to hold passport: Delhi HC

New Delhi: Every citizen has a legal right to hold a passport and authorities cannot refuse to renew it merely on an apprehension that the earlier passports might have been misused, the Delhi High Court has said.

The court, while dealing with a petition by an Indian citizen seeking a change in the date of birth mentioned in his passport, said denial of

the travel document seriously impedes the rights of a citizen, and the authorities can refuse to renew a passport or cancel it only on grounds prescribed in law.

In the present case, the authorities had refused to renew the petitioner’s passport with the updated date of birth on the ground that the claim for correction did not seem to be genuine.

The counsel for the passport authority told the court that approximately 14 years have passed since the issuance of the first passport to the petitioner, and he might misuse the travel document if the same is renewed or re-issued with a new date of birth.

Rejecting the objection, the court noted that the authorities have not provided any basis for rejecting the petitioner’s renewal application which was supplemented with validly issued government documents.

“Every citizen has a legal right to hold a passport and the right can be taken away only in accordance with law. The authorities are bound to follow the procedure prescribed under law and can refuse to renew/cancel a passport only on grounds prescribed in law,” said Justice Subramonium Prasad in a recent order.

“In the present case, the only reason that is being put forward by the Respondent is a mere possibility that the earlier passports which had been issued on the basis of Birth Certificates dated 11.02.2003 and 02.07.2007 could have been misused which can never be a valid

ground for denial of issuing the passport,” the court said.

It said although the passport authorities have the power to verify the veracity of the documents, they cannot hold that the authority issuing the date of birth certificates have not done their job properly when all the relevant documents have been given to show the correct date of birth.

The mistake done by the parents of the petitioner in giving the wrong date of birth cannot be held against the petitioner, it added.

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