Only passport officer may impound passport: SC

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New Delhi, Jan 24 (UNI) The Supreme Court today made it clear that passport of a person can be impounded only by the passport officer concerned under the Passport Act and an investigating agency is not competent to impound the passport of any accused.

A bench comprising Justices PP Naolekar and Markendey Katju also directed the CBI to release the passport of Suresh Nanda, son of former Navy chief SM Nanda within a week.

Additional Solicitor General Amarendra Saran opposing the plea of Nanda for release of his passport impounded by CBI, contended that Nanda is facing allegations of receiving kickbacks of over Rs 400 crore in the Barak missile deal, in violation of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act).

Mr Saran also expressed apprehension that once Suresh Manda is allowed to leave the country he will never return as he is going to take permanent citizenship of USA.

The order, however, does not mean that Suresh Nanda has been granted permission to leave the country. The apex court has given liberty to CBI to proceed in accordance with law under the Passport Act and get the passport impounded if necessary by the passport officer concerned.

The apex court in its order said ''since Passport Act is a special law it will override all other laws and therefore only the passport officer can impound the passport of an accused.'' Suresh Nanda is the father of main accused in BMW case Sanjeev Nanda, who is facing trial for mowing down seven people in 1999 in a case of drunken driving.

UNI AKS/SC AM KP1616

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