The Kerala High Court on Monday suggested that the offence relating to forgery of passports under the Passport Act be made non-bailable and the punishment for the offence enhanced.

Justice K.T. Sankaran, while dismissing a bail plea of an accused in a passport forgery case, said that it would be ideal if the punishment provided for the offence under section 12(1) of the Passport Act was enhanced suitably so as to make the offence a non-bailable one.

The court added that the question whether an amendment to section 12(1) was required or not was a matter to be considered by the lawmakers.

The court observed that it was noticed that the cases relating to the offence under the Passport Act were on the rise in the State.

There were cases where persons who were deported and were not permitted to go to the same country for certain periods procured a second passport through illegal means. There were also cases of entering erroneously the age and other details in passports so as to secure job abroad.

Some persons even secured more than one passport to facilitate their nefarious activities.

The persons who had more than one passport were found involved in serious offences affecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Checking such offences which affected the economic stability and security of the nation should be of great concern.

Terrorist activities were on the increase in the State. Therefore, the offence under the Passport Act was to be viewed in this background.

The court said that the punishment for the offence was enhanced from six months to two years imprisonment thorough an amendment in 1993.The punishment could be extended up to five years.

The court said that many offences under the Passport Act went unnoticed.

As the offence was bailable, the investigation officers would not get an opportunity to have custodial interrogation of the accused, the court observed.

Paul murder case

Justice K.T. Sankaran adjourned to December 4 the hearing on a bail petition filed by the four accused in the Paul Muthoot murder case.

The court had earlier dismissed their bail plea. The accused who moved the bail petition again were Sunil, Aneesh Kumar, Binoy Markose and Jain Jose.

Bail plea

The court posted for November 30 the hearing on the bail petition filed by Sherin, who was arrested in connection with the murder of her father-in-law at Chengannur in Alappuzha.

The U.S.-based Bhaskara M. Karanavar was found murdered in the house.

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