Criminal proceedings do not bar obtaining of passport: HC

Magistrate should consider all aspects of case

The pendency of a criminal proceedings against a person shall not bar him/her from obtaining a passport for travelling abroad, the Kerala High Court has observed.

Considering a petition moved by Thadevoose Sebastian of Thiruvananthapuram, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas noted that when criminal proceedings are pending, the court shall grant permission for the period of travel or the period for which the passport can be issued.

The magistrate, while considering the request for obtaining permission for passport and travel abroad, shall not ignore the fact that false prosecution can mar the career and future of a person. Criminal trials take ages to complete. The pandemic has halted the continuity of trials in many trial courts. In these circumstances, the granting of permission to travel abroad is of great significance, as it will be a process of balancing the fundamental right of a citizen to travel abroad and the need to ensure the presence of the accused during trial, the court noted.

While considering the application, the magistrate shall consider the stage of the criminal proceedings and the duration of time within which the trial may take place. The criminal antecedents and past conduct of the accused and the nature and gravity of the crime shall be looked into, the judge noted.

The offences of terrorism and smuggling require a different consideration. In case of heinous crimes, if the court decides to grant permission, the period for which permission is granted can be limited. The chances of the accused fleeing or evading trial and the mode in which the presence of the accused can be ensured during trial shall also be taken into consideration, the court ordered.

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