Madras High Court grants relief to man who failed to get Passport on account of FIR for not wearing face-mask amid COVID-19
The Madras High Court recently came to the help a man who was facing issues in getting a passport on account of a pending FIR registered against him for allegedly failing to wear a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic (Nagalingam v. Regional Passport Officer and anr).
The Court opined that registration of an FIR by itself does not translate to criminal proceedings while directing the concerned authorities to issue a passport on the petitioner's application if all other requirements are met.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh said, "It is seen from the records that the FIR came to be registered against the petitioner only on the ground that he was not wearing a face mask, when he was driving his two wheeler during the Pandemic condition. That apart, the very registration of an FIR cannot be construed to be criminal proceedings, unless it translates itself into a final report and the same is taken cognizance by a competent Court."
The petitioner told the Court that he had applied for a passport on March 29, 2021. However, a communication was later sent to him by the Regional Passport Officer, Madurai, pointing out that there was an FIR pending against him. The petitioner was asked to explain why he did not reveal the pendency of a criminal case. The petitioner gave his reply on April 22 but the authorities did not act on his reply thereafter. Therefore, he approached the High Court for relief.
The Court directed the concerned authorities to process the petitioner's application and issue a passport, if other requirements are satisfied, within 4 weeks from the receipt of the Court's order copy. The petitioner was directed to make a fresh representation to the authorities, to be sent along with a copy of the Court's order.
Advocate T Balaji appeared for the petitioner while advocate VB Sundareshwar appeared for the respondent-authorities.