New Delhi: Taking note of allegations of Indian passports being issued to citizens and foreigners not living at addresses given by them, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought an explanation from the Centre and the city government on the issue.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw issued notices to the ministries of external affairs (MEA) and home affairs (MHA) as well as Delhi government and city police and sought their replies by April 29.
"It is a very serious issue that people who are not living at their addresses have been issued passports in their name. The government needs to explain to us on this very serious allegation raised by the petitioner (NGO)," the bench said.
NGO Paardarshita, in its PIL, alleged that thousands of Indian passports have been issued to foreign nationals at non-existent addresses here on the basis of false police verification reports.
It also alleged that diplomatic passports have been issued to non-diplomatic persons and claimed that this has led to human trafficking.
It further alleged that diplomatic passports have been issued to non-diplomatic persons who "impersonate themselves as spouse and/or children of Members of Parliament who themselves accompany such persons and drop them off in foreign nations in exchange for huge amount of cash".
During the hearing, the court asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain whether passport office is doing any independent verification of the addresses of persons to whom the passports were being issued.
The ASG replied that the verification is being done by the police and added that if the petitioner has any grievances it should lodge an FIR against the culprits.
The NGO, in its petition, alleged that the Bureau of Immigration has "overlooked the malpractices and illegalities" and claimed it has lead to "compromising of the integrity and security of our country".
It also alleged that some corrupt passport and special branch officials are "conniving" with each other and police of other states to issue passports for persons at false addresses.
The plea sought directions to National Investigating Agency and CBI to probe the matter as well as seize relevant records and database of the passport offices and special branch offices concerned to prevent tampering and destruction of evidence.
The NGO also sought action against all those persons who are involved in "illegal racket" of issuing Indian passports on false police verification reports.