‘Return Jignesh Shah’s Passport’- Orders Bombay High Court

Jignesh Shah’s constant efforts to get justice received the first shed of light on 4th of June 2018, when justice Naik ordered CBI to revoke the restrictions on Jignesh Shah and return his passport. The business tycoon’s passport was restrained by the CBI for over three years which is ‘illegal and contrary to the law’. The court stated that CBI has the authority to seize his passport but not impound it, only the Passport Authority under section 10(3) of the Passport Act has the authority to do that. Justice Naik allowed the application which was presented by Shah, challenging the September 2017 order of rejecting Shah’s application seeking the return of his passport.

On 22nd March, when Jignesh Shah, the founder of FTIL received bail, certain restrictions were imposed on him. Judging from the severity of his crime, it was stated that there is a huge chance that Shah might flee the country and so his passport should be seized until the investigation is over. Since then, a lot of circumstances have changed and CBI had also filed a charge sheet but the restriction on his passport was never revoked.

On behalf of Jignesh Shah, an application was filed to the court by senior advocate Amit Desai which stated that on 13th March 2014, the entrepreneur’s passport was seized and now that the investigation is over, the restrictions should be removed. Under Section 102 of CrPC, the police may have the authority to seize a passport but they cannot impound it. Justice Naik declared the impounding of the passport as ‘contrary to law’, and added, “The illegality (retention of passport by CBI) cannot continue in perpetuity. The passport needs to be handed over to the applicant (Jignesh Shah). The passport authority is free to take action towards impounding the passport under section 10(3) of the Act.”

After listening to all the arguments, the court held the act as illegal and “therefore cannot be continued by handing over the passport by the respondents to the Passport Authority after a lapse of more than three years. However, it would be open to the Passport Authority to initiate any action under Section 10(3)(e) of the Passport Act. The passport, however, is required to be returned to the applicant.”

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