Iltija Mufti, daughter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, has accused the office of the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), CID, R. R. Swain of not clarifying her police verification for more than six months and deliberately denying the passport.
In a letter addressed to ADGP Swain, dated January 9, 2023, a copy of which is with The Hindu, Ms. Mufti said that the right to travel abroad is a basic yet fundamental right and it cannot be held hostage to an inordinately long enquiry conducted by respondent or its agencies.
“Therefore your (ADGP Swain) inaction and failure to do so brazenly infringes upon my rights and is causing me severe distress. I would like to bring to your notice that I am a law abiding citizen and have never broken any law or rule,” the letter, addressed to Mr. Swain, reads.
According to the letter, Ms. Mufti’s passport was due to expire last year and applied for passport renewal June, 8, 2022.
“Much to my disappointment, I have still not received a new passport. I traced my application online various times and it is still pending for physical police verification at the SP (Superintendent of Police) office in Budgam district,” the letter reads.
Ms. Mufti also mentioned the Supreme Court directions on passports in the letter. “As you are well aware, the Supreme Court clarified and held in Satwant Singh Sawhney vs D. Ramarathnam that the right to travel is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution and the government has no right to refuse a passport to a person who has applied for the same,” the letter said.
Junior Mufti attracted a spotlight in 2019 when her mother and former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister was arrested and put up in a detention centre. She emerged as a major voice on the issues facing Jammu & Kashmir post August 5, 2019, when the Centre ended J&K’s special constitutional position.
The Muftis have been alleging that their entire family was being denied passports. Mehbooba’s mother Gulshan Nazir, also wife of former Union Home Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, allegedly was denied a passport last year when she wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
It was in January this year that the J&K High Court took a strong note of denial of passport to Ms. Nazir and directed the Passport Officer “to consider re-issuance of passport afresh”.
“Simply on the basis of the report of the J&K CID, which did not recommend to issue passport, the Passport Officer under the provisions of Passport Act has not to shut his eyes and to act on that. At least the Passport Officer should have, in the background of the facts and circumstances, if required, asked the police and CID agency as to whether there is anything adverse against the petitioner,” justice M. A. Chowdhary, a J&K High Court judge, observed in an order.