The Delhi High Court single judge Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri recently, ordered lodging of FIR against the Delhi police officials who had aided the real estate tycoon and 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case convict, Sushil Ansal in securing a passport to travel outside the country back in 2013 under the Tatkal scheme by failing to mention pendency of criminal proceedings against Ansal in the Uphaar fire tragedy case, which had claimed numerous innocent lives.
The court while hearing a petition moved by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), through its chairperson Neelam Krishnamoorthy, ruled that 1997 Uphaar fire tragedy case convict Sushil Ansal had “on oath misled the Government of India and the Court that he has not been convicted in any criminal proceedings by any Court” when he availed the benefit of a passport under the Tatkaal scheme in the year 2013 and appropriate proceedings will be initiated against Sushil Ansal.
The petition had sought court's intervention in the matter to inquire into such grave deficiency committed by the police and passport authorities which benefited the Sushil Ansal in securing a passport in contravention to the laws of the land.
Ansal's counsel, senior advocate Rebecca John, defended his action by stating that as per the provisions of the Passport Act, issuing of passport under the Tatkal scheme was a 'special arrangement' to enable citizens to secure passport on an urgent basis and in such cases, the applicant was not compelled to furnish all the information sought from him. It was further contended that since the High court in May 2008 had granted him permission to travel abroad on his passport, which was valid till 2016, the said order would also be applicable to him till then and therefore, he had "carte blanche" to go abroad without needing to furnish any other information.
Finding no merits in the Ansal's arguments, the court rejected both the contentions placed by his counsel and noted that, “When respondent 4 applied through the tatkaal scheme, he should have given information as required. Sushil Ansal has not only misled the Government of India, but has misrepresented on oath. Appropriate proceedings against him would be warranted”. Further, the bench added, “On a fresh application being made, all requisite information would have to be provided in the application”.
The court also noted that no feasible explanation was rendered by the authorities as to why the requirement of pre-police verification for the issuance of a passport was relaxed to post-police verification when Ansal applied for a passport in the year 2018.
Concluding the hearing, the Bench directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to look into the alleged misconduct by the officials and to submit a report within four weeks carrying out an inquiry against the passport officers who had repeatedly issued the travel document to Ansal in 2000, 2004, 2013 and 2018, failing their duties.