The Mumbai Regional Passport Office (RPO) has sought the External Affairs ministry’s nod to prosecute ‘activist’ Medha Patkar for not disclosing details pertaining to criminal cases against her in the passport application, reports The New Indian Express.
According to reports, the RPO had written a letter to External Affairs Ministry seeking permission to file a criminal case against Medha Patkar for hiding the details about many pending cases against her at the time of filing the passport application in 2017.
In her passport application of March 30, 2017, Patkar had claimed that no criminal cases are pending against her and in the column on pending criminal cases, if any, she had declared “none”.
The officials in the passport officer said her passport has automatically been impounded after she surrendered it on December 9. The officers added that Patkar cannot absolve herself from prosecution after surrendering her passport.
If MEA grants permission for prosecution against Patkar, the Mumbai RPO will file a criminal case against her as per the Passport Act. The maximum punishment under the Act is two-year rigorous imprisonment or Rs 5,000 fine or both.
According to the section 10(3) of the passport act, the passport authority may impound or revoke a passport or travel document if proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the holder of the passport or travel document are pending before a criminal court in India.
The RPO Mumbai had issued Patkar a notice on October 18 seeking details regarding the nine criminal cases that have been registered against her – three are in Barwani, one in Alirajpur and five in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, which is still pending adjudication.
“In view of the same, it is proposed to impound your passport bearing no. and any other passport if issued subsequently under section 10(3)(e) of the Passports Act 1967. You are requested to state why action should not be taken under section 12(1) of the Passports Act 1967,” the notice issued by the passport office on October 18 said.
Later, in November, the Mumbai Regional Passport Office had issued a show-cause notice to ‘activist’ Medha Patkar seeking details on cases pending against her asking and had asked why her passport should not be seized for hiding information regarding pendency of cases against her.
The notice stated that Patkar had not disclosed the pendency of these cases and obtained the passport on March 30, 2017, by suppressing information.
Reportedly, most of the cases against Medha Patkar have been lodged for rioting and obstructing government servants from carrying out their duty. In March 2017, a passport was reissued to her which is valid till March 2027.
A complaint was filed against the activist in June 2019 by a journalist Sanjeev Jha, accusing Patkar of obtaining her passport by concealing and suppressing material facts from the RPO Mumbai. The complainant had provided the details of nine criminal cases with documentary evidence, pending against her in various districts of Madhya Pradesh.