Right to travel abroad fundamental, rules HC - ECAS Punjab

Right to travel abroad fundamental, rules HC

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Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14

In a significant judgment that will change the way NRIs and other accused are prevented from taking a trip to a foreign country during the pendency of criminal cases, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the right to travel abroad was a part of the fundamental right to personal liberty. This and other rights of an accused do not get automatically suspended merely because he is being prosecuted in a criminal case.

What court said

  • The liberty of a citizen, or even a non-citizen, cannot be unreasonably curtailed, except in the circumstances elaborated
  • Ensuring speedy trial of a criminal case and avoiding the possibility of accused fleeing the reach of law ought to be the court's only concern in such cases

Justice Anil Kshetarpal also ruled that one could not travel abroad in the absence of a valid passport and such facet of personal liberty could be curtailed only in accordance with the law, which was required to satisfy the test of reasonableness of one or more rights under the Constitution.

Justice Kshetarpal also rapped Nawanshahr Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate for committing a "material irregularity" while refusing to issue necessary directions to the Regional Passport Officer to renew the passport of a "green card holder having permit to reside permanently in the USA, particularly when the trial of a criminal case involving the petitioner is pending in the court".

Laying down the principles for deciding pleas for passport renewal, Justice Kshetarpal said an accused was presumed to be innocent until convicted. The courts were required to take into account the nature of allegations, the conduct of the accused and the need to ensure he did not pose the risk of evading prosecution.

Ensuring speedy trial of a criminal case and avoiding the possibility of accused fleeing the reach of law ought to be the court's only concern, the judge ruled. The liberty of a citizen, or even a non-citizen, could not be unreasonably curtailed, except in the circumstances elaborated.

The ruling came on a petition filed against the Union of India and other respondents by Harvinder Singh Bajwa "struck" in the country because he was an accused in a minor offence and the trial's conclusion was taking "a lot of time".



from The Tribune https://ift.tt/2GQniYP

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