High Court gives clean chit to Madurai’s former Commissioner of Police in passport scam

Judge compliments BJP President Annamalai for bringing the passport scam to light

Updated - July 28, 2022 11:50 am IST

Published - July 27, 2022 09:29 pm IST - Madurai

A view of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court

A view of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

While giving a clean chit to the former Commissioner of Police (CoP), Madurai City, S. Davidson Devasirvatham (now ADGP Intelligence) in the passport scam case, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday complimented Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai for bringing the scam to light.

The case pertains to Indian passports having allegedly been issued to Sri Lankan nationals who had submitted fake documents as address and identity proof. Officials of the Regional Passport Office and the State police are involved in the scam.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan observed that police officers on the field played the most crucial role in the verification process, and the buck stopped with the nodal officer. The involvement of officials above the rank may not really arise, in reference to the role of Mr. Devasirvatham in this case.

Taking note of the fact that a public interest litigation petition was filed in 2021, seeking the transfer of the investigation to the CBI, the judge observed that a Division Bench had directed the Q Branch to complete the investigation in three months. This was later extended by a period of six months.

The direction of the Division Bench was not complied with. The final report was yet to be filed, on the ground that sanction had not been obtained for prosecuting the erring government servants, Justice Swaminathan observed.

During the relevant time, Mr. Davidson Devasirvatham was the Commissioner of Police, Madurai City. Had the final report been filed before the public interest litigation petition was filed, had the time limit laid down by the Division Bench been adhered to, and had the sanctioning authorities accorded sanction without delay, the current controversy would not have arisen at all, the judge said.

“I give a clean chit to Mr. Davidson Devasirvatham. At the same time, I compliment Mr. Annamalai, the State Bharatiya Janata Party president, for having taken up the cause. He has played the role of a watchdog in a democracy. But for him, the matter would not have come to light,” the judge said.

Status Report

The Q Branch filed a status report before the court, stating that as many as 41 persons were proposed to be prosecuted, including officials from the Regional Passport Office, Madurai, and the State police.

The Central government had granted sanction in respect of one of its servants and declined sanction for 13. The Tamil Nadu government had granted sanction for prosecuting the then Assistant Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Madurai City, Mr. Sivakumar.

Apart from him, one Inspector and three Head Constables are also proposed to be prosecuted. The final report is to be filed shortly before the Judicial Magistrate IV, Madurai, the status report said.

‘Expedite action’

The judge directed the Judicial Magistrate to scrutinise the same and point out defects, if any. Once the defects are pointed out, the investigation officer shall rectify them forthwith, and the Magistrate shall take a call regarding cognisance expeditiously.

“Already, several months have passed, and the case has serious national security implications. It is scandalous that one police station in Madurai City has facilitated fraudulent issuance of as many as 54 passports. The corrupt elements must be brought to book at the earliest,” the judge said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a man from Madurai. His travel agent was an accused in a criminal case. Taking note of the fact that the petitioner was not involved in the case, the court allowed his petition, seeking a direction to the authorities to issue the passport.

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