The Impounding Of Jignesh Shah’s Passport Is ‘Contrary To Law’- Bombay High Court

After being allegedly involved in the NSEL case, Jignesh Shah, the chairman emeritus of 63 Moons Technologies Limited received bail on 22nd March, 2017. During his bail, certain conditions were imposed on him and that included the impounding of his passport. It was stated that the nature of his crimes was too serious and if given the opportunity, he might flee the country. Hence, the passport of the defendant should be detained until the investigation gets over. Seeking the return of his passport, Jignesh Shah had filed an application that also got rejected.

Senior advocate Amit Desai filed an application to the Bombay High Court, on behalf of Jignesh Shah, that stated, since the investigation of CBI was over and a charge sheet has already been filed, the passport of Jignesh Shah should be returned. Under Section 102 of CrPC, the police may have the authority to seize the passport but cannot impound it. Only the passport authority has the jurisdiction to impound a passport, and seizing a passport for so long results in impounding. Advocate Amit Desai argued, “special judge has committed a grave error in rejecting the application for the return of passport and further issuing directions to the respondents to forward the passport to the passport authority, to adjudicate on impounding of passport” of Shah. In appeal CBI counsel Hiten Venegaonkar added, Shah is likely to abscond once the passport has been handed over to him.

On 4th June, 2018, Justice Naik stood in favour of the founder of FTIL, and held the CBI’s action of seizing the passport for so long ‘illegal and contrary to law’. He said, ‘The illegal impounding 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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