Passport – Cancellation or Rejection of Passport without any Notice

 

Issue of Passport – Sovereign Function

The decision to issue a passport or not is a sovereign function. The Govt. of India does have the right to reject issue or rejection of Passport in appropriate cases.

Having said that, not issuing a passport for wrong and invalid reasons can amount to deficiency in services. And the aggrieved person can approach the Consumer Forums or the High Court for relief.

 

4 January 2016 – Bombay High Court 

The Bombay High Court took the passport office to task over pending applications and rejections without valid reasons. 

A division bench comprising Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice B P Colabawalla issued a warning to the passport office that if the court came across such cases in the future, the concerned passport officer would be penalized heavily.

 

Brief Facts of the Case

A Kandivali resident Amit Agarwal filed a writ that his passport, which was renewed in 2013, had been abruptly cancelled after he approached the passport office to get his birth date corrected on it. 

Agarwal’s lawyer, Vivek Kantawala, informed the court that the passport was cancelled without giving his client a hearing. Agarwal is a businessman who travels often – substantiated by the numerous visa stamps on his previous passport. He had applied for a renewal of his passport well before its expiry date of July 2014, and was provided with the same in 2013. 

However, when he approached the passport office to correct his birth date, which showed that he was a year younger than he was, the passport office cancelled his passport saying that Agarwal had failed to disclose a case that had been filed against him by his wife. Agarwal, in his petition, had said that the disclosure of the case was not held relevant by him as it was filed after he had already received his renewed passport. 

When the court inquired from the passport office about the compliance of the sections pertaining to the issuance of passports/travel documents, which mandate an order, the passport authorities had no reply. The court then issued a warning to the authorities, directing them to pass an order on Agarwal’s application by January 11. 

 

Court’s Observations

“We fail to understand as to why this court’s precious time should be wasted by the regional passport officer by forcing parties, like the petitioner, to approach this court and seek a direction of such nature. The passport officer must realize that it is his obligation and duty to consider the application. The applications, as made online, or presented physically, have all to be considered,” observed the bench. 

Asking the passport officers to treat online as well as regular applications at the same level, the court observed that the rules laid down under the Passport Act 1967 should be followed properly. 

“If the passport officer is satisfied after the enquiries that are required to be made that the passport must be issued with or without endorsement or should be refused, has to pass a reasoned order.
Hereafter, if applications of the above nature are kept pending without any orders being passed forcing parties to approach this court, then, we would take a serious view of the conduct of the Regional Passport Officer concerned and while allowing the request we would impose heavy costs to be paid personally by the Regional Passport Officer,” the bench added.

 

My Views

I myself have come across instances of cancellation of passport without issuing any valid show cause notice, without giving a personal hearing, on wrong and illogical reasons simply because the police submit some unconnected report. This illegal practice should be stopped.

 The National Commission has held that matters relating to passport come within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.

http://164.100.72.12/ncdrcrep/judgement/00RP238908.htm

Jurisdiction of Consumer Forum in case of online Transactions


The question of territorial jurisdiction in internet transactions is a tricky issue.

This issue came up before the Meghalaya State Consumer Commission. The grievance related to sale of Air Tickets by Air Deccan through the internet.

The State Commission made a detailed analysis of various provisions and decisions; and by its order dt. 7 December 2013, held that the Complainant could file the Complaint at the place where he entered into the transactions. The following are the details of the case:

State Meghalaya  Appeal No.
FA/7/2007
  M.D.Air Deccan
(Appellant)
  Shri Ram Gopal Agarwal
(Original Complainant)             Date of Order

07/12/2013


The State Commission observed as follows:

” With the widespread access to personal computers and the internet, e commerce has been growing at a phenomenal pace. Many service providers and retailers taking advantage of this are offering their wares to the general public through their web sites, enabling their customers to do business/shopping from the comfort of their homes and offices. With the growth of e commerce and commercial activity over the internet, it has become possible for business to be conducted across the globe without actual physical presence in every place. Widespread usage of plastic money (Credit and Debit Cards) has facilitated these operations in a big way. But at times the consumer gets a raw deal as internet dealings are done with unknown parties, operating from far off places.

“Thus, the challenge faced by parties to an online transaction is which forum should be used to adjudicate conflicts. This is particularly an issue when a buyer seeks redressal in his local jurisdiction on the basis that the sellers goods or services are made available to consumers in all parts of the country through the Suppliers / Service providers web presence.

“We are also of the equally firm view that the learned District Forum at Shillong had territorial jurisdiction over the Complaint in question for the reasons afore stated and we therefore unhesitatingly uphold the impugned order passed by the Forum below.”

This is a very important decision. I am giving the link to the decision.

http://164.100.72.12/ncdrcrep/judgement/300131223132046193dailyorder12013-11-16.html

Air Travel and dangerous goods

Radhe Maa is in the news for all the wrong reasons. 
But I am not touching those issues.
She carried a Trishul on a flight. And there have been all kinds of allegations and defensives from all kinds of people.

I will relate my own experiences.
A long time back, I was flying from Port Blair to Kolkata in an Indian Airlines flight.

The security staff in Port Blair were asking every passenger to take out the batteries from their cameras and throwing them out.
I don’t know whether they knew that there were batteries in watches, and even in some pen which had built in watches, and even in some pendants which had built in watches.
But they ignored these.

Another time, I was flying from Hubli to Chennai via Bangalore. 
I was carrying a camera stand. There was no problem in the Hubli to Bangalore flight. 
Bu the security staff in  Bangalore airport objected to my carrying the camera stand with me……the reason was that the camera stand had pointed legs and could be used as a weapon.
Finally, I handed it to the captain. He carried it with him.

Different people interpret rules in different ways.
The same is the case with Radhe Maa. Obviously, the security staff must have cleared her Trishul.

Even the knife and fork given with the meals in the aircraft can be used as weapons.
The passengers have a right to know what they can or can not carry……..no ifs and buts….no illogical interpretations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

I am publishing the following news item to show the need for taking a travel insurance while travelling abroad.

It is mandatory while travelling to certain countries.
But I would advise every tourist to take one.

Its coverage is very wide and includes medical illness, hospitalization, loss of passport, missed flights, loss of luggage, etc.

 

The following is the news item published in the Times of India (Mumbai Edition)
10 October 2013

Insurer to pay Rs 3 lakh to woman who fell ill during Thailand trip
(Rebecca SamervelRebecca Samervel, TNN | Oct 10, 2013, 01.10 AM IST)

MUMBAI: An insurance company will have to reimburse a Parel-based woman Rs 3.34 lakh assured under the overseas travel insurance policy after she fell ill on a trip to Thailand in 2011.

The complainant, Anila Gupta, will also receive Rs 15,000 as compensation as the insurer, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd, had failed to furnish the amount when she was hospitalized abroad in Thailand.

According to the complaint filed in the Central Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in 2012, Gupta said she had arrived in Thailand on July 29, 2011. However, she fell critically ill and was admitted to Bangkok hospital in August 2011. Her husband sent an email to the insurance company on August 24, 2011, and registered a cashless claim. During her hospitalization, officers of the insurance company in Bangkok were in touch with the healthcare facility and paid a substantial portion of medical expenses. However, due to an erroneous interpretation, the insurer did not make full and timely payment.

The Guptas were forced to shell out Rs 3.21 lakh from their Indian bank account in September 2011. Gupta was discharged on September 26, 2011, but could not leave Thailand as the disease was contagious and continued her treatment there as an outdoor patient. After returning to India in October 2011, she submitted her claim to the insurance company. Gupta sent a notice to the insurer on March 21, 2012, to settle the claim. However, in the absence of a response she filed the complaint.

The insurer was served a notice of the complaint but remained absent. The forum then proceeded ex parte. In the forum, Gupta produced a copy of the travel insurance. During the pendency of proceedings in the forum, she told the forum that the insurer had issued her a cheque for a part of the amount claim. However, she said that since the matter was sub judice, she had not encashed the cheque. The forum held that the insurer had not responded to the complaint and hence Gupta’s version remained unchallenged. The forum held it guilty of deficiency in service.

The full text of the decision is available at the following site:


http://164.100.72.12/ncdrcrep/judgement/21483131009162912639CC-12-127.pdf

 

Consumer Help – Mumbai

We are now ready to advise and take up consumer cases in Mumbai.

Please send us your query in brief over email….
You will get free advice..and if necessary, we will arrange for representation through a lawyer.

Binoy Gupta

eleena100@hotmail.com