Peoples Democratic Party chief and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday criticised the Centre after she was denied a passport on the basis of a Crime Investigation Department report.
“Passport Office refused to issue my passport based on CID’s report citing it as ‘detrimental’ to the security of India,” Mufti tweeted, along with a photo of a letter from the passport office. “This is the level of normalcy achieved in Kashmir since August 2019 that an ex-chief minister holding a passport is a threat to the sovereignty of a mighty nation.”
The letter said that Mufti’s application for a passport was rejected as the Jammu and Kashmir CID had recommended it, reported PTI. It added that the former chief minister can appeal against the decision at a higher forum provided by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Later on Monday, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir also rejected the passport application of Mufti’s mother, Gulshan Nazir, following an adverse police report.
In a separate letter to Nazir, which was shared by the former chief minister on Twitter, the Regional Passport office informed her that the Crime Investigation Department department of the Jammu and Kashmir Police had not cleared her passport application under Section 6 (2) (c) of the Passports Act.
The section permits authorities to refuse to issue a passport or travel document to an applicant for visiting any foreign country on the grounds that “that the departure of the applicant from India may, or is likely to, be detrimental to the security of India”, according to PTI.
A passport can also be rejected under the section, if the presence of the applicant outside India may, or is likely to, prejudice the friendly relations of India with any foreign country.
“CID claims that my mother who is well into her seventies is a ‘threat to national security’ & therefore doesn’t deserve a passport,” Mufti wrote on Twitter. “GOI [the Government of India] is employing absurd methods to harass and punish me for not toeing their line.”
Mufti had applied for a fresh passport in December after the previous one expired on May 31. The Jammu and Kashmir Police had opposed giving her a passport, citing “adverse reports”, PTI said last week.
The PDP chief had moved the High Court against the delay in getting a passport. During the hearing on March 23, Additional Solicitor General TM Shamsi, appearing for the Ministry of External Affairs and the Regional Passport office, had sought short adjournment after the counsel representing the Jammu and Kashmir CID informed the court that the verification report on Mufti’s passport application was submitted on March 18.
Shamsi, however, told the High Court that he had received a communication from the passport officer on March 22 in connection with the matter. He said that the contents “reveal that the verification of the petitioner is under process and as soon as [the] verification process is completed, the requisite report will be submitted immediately for further course of action”.
The counsel for Mufti had argued that the stand taken by the regional passport officer in Srinagar with reference to the non-availability of the report from the CID has caused delay in issuance of the passport.
Mufti’s counsel told the High Court that according to instructions by the Ministry of External Affairs, the passport of an individual is to be issued within 30 days. But in this case, the counsel said, passport has not been issued to the petitioner due to the pending police verification.
The High Court took note of the communication produced by Shamshi and posted the matter for hearing on Monday.
Mufti was released from detention after over a year on October 13. She had been in detention under the Public Safety Act since August 5, 2019 – the day the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and bifurcated it into Union Territories.
Presently, the Enforcement Directorate is investigating the PDP chief in an alleged money-laundering case.