Monday, April 30, 2012

Gujarat HC rejects passport agents’ plea for login facility over security

A division bench of Gujarat High Court (HC) recently dismissed a petition by an association of passport agents who had demanded a direction to the authorities to allow them to have a log-in facility in their names to submit passport applications on behalf of their clients even in the recently introduced Passport Seva Kendra Scheme which has completely changed the process of issuance of passports while curtailing the role of passport agents.

The petitioner organisation has been identified as Association of Recognised Passport Agents of Gujarat. The association had challenged a single-judge bench order of the HC that had dismissed its petition challenging the provisions of the scheme that are curtailing their roles in the passport issuance process.

Following that the organisation had preferred an appeal before a division bench. And a division bench of the HC comprising of Justices V M Sahai and A J Desai passed an order recently on their appeal while dismissing the same.

According to the details, the central government has completely changed the passport issuance process while introducing Passport Seva Project. Under the new scheme, the person who wants to have a passport has to personally appear before a Passport Seva Kendra.

Earlier, the passport agents were recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs and they also used to submit the forms on behalf of their clients to get the passport. In the new scheme, the passport agents have not been included.

With their roles curtailed, the petitioner organisation approached the HC with a prayer that they be given a separate login facility to submit forms on behalf of their clients. However, this prayer was dismissed by the division bench also while observing that the national security is of paramount importance.
The petitioner organisation had pressed for their demand while arguing that they have been carrying business as agents for last 50 years and therefore their livelihood was going to be affected.

The central government had opposed the petition on a number of grounds. One of them being the issue of national security. The central government counsel contended that there are many instances when fraudulent persons have managed to obtain passports.

Dismissing the petition the bench observed, “The passport is a very important instrument which permits an Indian Citizen to travel beyond the country and, therefore, before issuing such important instrument, the authority has to scrutinise the application for passport in detail since it is a matter of national security. It is a fact of common knowledge that large number of persons travel beyond the country on fake passports which are prepared in the name of bogus/dummy persons.”

“In view of this aspect, if the Government decides that the person, who is interested in getting passport, shall file the application in his own name having sufficient details about himself/herself, the same is not prejudicial to anybody,”

No comments:

Post a Comment