SC - Police Or Courts Cannot Impound Passports
Excerpts of SC Case: IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA - CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION - CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.179 OF 2008 - [ARISING OUT OF S.L.P (CRL) 3408 OF 2007] - SURESH NANDA: APPELLANT - VERSUS - C.B.I.:RESPONDENT
12. It may be mentioned that there is a difference between seizing of a document and impounding a document. A seizure is made at particular moment when a person or authority takes into his possession some property, which was earlier not in his possession. Thus, seizure is done at a particular moment of time. However, if after seizing of property or document the said property or document is retained for some period of time, then such retention amounts to impounding of the property/or document. In the Law Lexicon by P. Ra m a n a th a Aiyar (2 nd Edition), the word “impound” has been defined to mean “to take possession of a document or thing for being held in custody in accordance with law”.
Thus, the word “impounding” really means retention of possession of a good or a document, which has been seized.
13. Hence, while the police may have power to seize a passport under Section 102 Cr. P.C. if it is permissible within the authority given under Section 1 0 2 of Cr.P .C., it does not have power to retain or impound the same, because that can only be done by the passport authority under Section 1 0( 3) of the P a s sports Act. Hence, if the police seizes a passport (which it has power to do under Section 1 0 2 Cr.P .C.), thereafter the police must send it along with a letter to the passport authority clearly stating that the seized passport deserves to be impounded for one of the reasons mentioned in Section 10(3) of the Act. It is thereafter the passport authority to decide whether to impound the passport or not. Since impounding of a passport has civil consequences, the passport authority must give an opportunity of hearing to the person concerned before impounding his passport. It is well settled that any order which has civil consequences must be passed after giving opportunity of hearing to a party vide State of Orissa Vs. Binap ani Dei[Air 1967 SC 1269 ].
It is a highly suspicious practice, but the courts can (and frequently do) hold on to your passport as a condition of granting bail.