The most common question these days for the NRI citizens is that if they come to India can their passport be impounded?
The Answer to this is neither the court nor the police has power to impound the passport..
In a recent case decided by the Delhi High Court in which the passport of a NRI was seized by the police..
The court held that under section 102 CrPC the police has power to seize the document that is to take possession of the thing for the moment and not to retain it for longer periods of time. Therefore an application of return of passport is maintainable. As it is the passport authority who has power to impound the passport under section 10(3). The impounding of passport involves civil action.
Hence, while the police may have power to seize a passport under Section
102 CrPC if it is permissible within the authority given under Section 102 CrPC,
it does not have power to retain or impound the same, because that can only be
done by the Passport Authority under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act. Hence,
if the police seizes a passport (which it has power to do under Section 102
CrPC), 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 for 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 v.
Binapani Dei [MANU/SC/0332/1967 : AIR 1967 SC 1269])