Chennai: The Madras High Court recently has recommended the Centre to incorporate amendments in the Passport Rules, thus making it more convenient for banks and other financial institutions to insist surrender of passports from loan defaulters, thereby restraining them from fleeing the country.
During the hearing of a plea moved by S Mangalam, Justice S Vaidyanathan made the suggestion to prevent defaulters from migrating to an alien country. The petitioner being a suspended Anganwadi worker, through the plea seeking direction to authorities to reinstate her in service.
In response to the plea, the advocate for the Government submitted that Anganwadi worker was suspended from service as, during a surprise inspection, she was not present at her place of work and was instead found to be cooking food meant for children in a cowshed. Subsequently, the Court was also informed that the petitioner had travelled to Singapore without informing or obtaining prior permission from the department that too on her relative's passport.
Socked by her act the Court observed that considering this as a clear case of abuse of the process of the Court, the petitioner could be made liable to severe punishment of imprisonment of not less than two months.
Amending the passport rules will keep the financial institutions aware in case the defaulter plans to escape.
Moreover, alongside dismissal of the plea, the Judge stated that the proposed amendments shall include impounding of passport by the loan agencies until repayment of loan amount. However, in case of default, the passport may be temporarily cancelled.
Justice Vaidyanathan observed that the Passport Act and Rules could also be amended to the effect that in case of renewal of passport necessary endorsement should be obtained from banks or suitable orders obtained from the jurisdictional court or appropriate forum.
Since the matter involves a woman worker, the Court has instructed the local police to arrest and remand her to judicial custody under simple imprisonment for one week.
However, the Court instructed immediate withdrawal of ration card, if any, issued by the Government in favour of the petitioner and her relative, who permitted her to travel using his/her passport.
Despite the dismissal of the plea, the Court has not imposed any form of hindrance for the petitioner and her relative to avail benefits from the Government.