Mumbai: Observing that the Regional Passport Office (RPO) cannot sit on a passport application for days, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed it to process and decide on the application made by Monica Bedi, actor and former companion of gangster Abu Salem, within 12 weeks.
A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and SC Gupte was hearing a petition filed by Monica seeking a direction to the passport office to take a decision on her application for re-issuance.
"Whatever objections you (passport authority) have inform them to the petitioner. If there are any formalities that need to be complied with, the petitioner may do so. We direct the regional passport office to complete the process within 12 weeks," the court said.
Bedi and Salem were arrested in Portugal and extradited to India in 2005. In the same year, she was held guilty for submitting forged documents for procuring passport and sentenced to five years in jail.
In 2007, Bedi was released on bail pending appeal. In 2010, the Supreme Court, while upholding her conviction, reduced the sentence to the period undergone by her in prison.
"Bedi filed application for re-issuance of her passport on September 3, 2012. Her form was accepted and she was given an acknowledgement slip. However, till date there has been no communication. No order has also been passed rejecting her application," Bedi`s lawyer Niteen Pradhan said.
He added that as per rules, a person`s passport application cannot be granted if he or she has been convicted five years prior to the filing of the passport application.
Bedi`s petition states that she wants to go abroad for shooting and her career is affected due to non-availability of passport.
The RPO in its affidavit filed earlier had said that it cannot issue passport if any proceedings pertaining to the offences lodged against her is pending before any criminal court.
The RPO had further said that it had sought NOC from Bhopal, Hyderabad and CBI Delhi pending which it cannot take a decision.