The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday quashed an order passed by Madurai Regional Passport Officer on April 16 impounding the passport of S.P. Udayakumar, convener of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), an organisation that has been spearheading various forms of protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

Allowing a couple of writ petitions filed by him, Justice K. Chandru held that mere registration of 98 First Information Reports (FIRs) against the petitioner by the Kudankulam and Pazhavoor police could not be a reason for impounding the passport under Section 10 (3)(e) of the Passports Act 1967. “In the cases on hand, there is no reference to the court in which the cases are pending and the criminal cases are only in the stage of FIRs. Therefore, it cannot be said that the respondent (Regional Passport Officer) can invoke the ingredients of Section 10(3)(e) of the Act,” the judge said.

He also held that a show cause notice issued by the RPO to the petitioner on March 30, before passing the final order impounding the passport, was illegal.

Through the notice, the petitioner was asked to surrender his passport within 15 days failing which he was warned of initiating necessary action to impound the document.

Immediately, the petitioner had filed one of the two present writ petitions challenging the notice.

Even as the case was pending in court, the RPO went ahead and passed the final order impounding the passport on the ground that the petitioner failed to surrender his passport within the stipulated time of 15 days.

The final order was passed without following the principles of natural justice.

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