Union of India & Ors Vs. Smt. Charanjit
Kaur  INSC 19 (20
O. Chinnappa (J) Reddy, O. Chinnappa (J) Khalid, V. (J)
1987 AIR 1057 1987 SCR (1)1080 1987 SCC (1) 671 JT 1987 (1) 195 1987 SCALE
Act, 1967: ss. 10(3)(c) & 10(5)--Passport--Impoundment of for activities
detrimental to sovereignty, integrity and security of India--Relevancy of material.
respondent, wife of a protagonist of Khalistan residing abroad, during her
visit to India was found meeting extremist leaders
in Punjab. Her passport was impounded by the
Regional Passport Officer under s. 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act, 1967 in view
of the grave nature of her activities and serious implications in terms of
sovereignty, integrity and security of the country. The reasons for the order
were however, not furnished to her in view of the provisions of s. 10(5) of the
Act. The order was confirmed on appeal by the Chief Passport Officer.
High Court took the view that there was no danger in presenti from respondent's
activities, and quashed the order on the ground that there was no material for
the conclusion of the Passport Officer that impounding of the passport was
this appeal by Special Leave by the Union of India it was contended that there
was information before the Regional Passport Officer justifying the order and
it was not open to the Court to assess the sufficiency or otherwise of such
information. On behalf of the respondent it was urged that there was no material
whatsoever to indicate that the respondent was involved in any sort of
political or prejudicial activity and that her passport had been impounded
merely because she was the wife of a protagonist of Khalistan.
the Appeal, the Court,
1.1 The order impounding the respondent's passport was based on relevant
material. The fact that she-was the wife of an extremist leader residing abroad
was not an irrelevant circumstance though singly, by itself it may appear
innocuous. That circumstance has to be viewed in conjunction with other
circumstances. The respondent had chosen to visit Punjab in troubled days and to call on Sant
1081 Bhindranwala, the acknowledged leader of the militant Sikh movement, in
the company of Balbir Singh Sandhu, self-styled Secretary-General of the
National Council of Khalistan. She was reported to have come to India in the month of October, 1983 to
see her mother who was said to be seriously iII. She tried to leave India on August 18, 1984. The authorities were, therefore, justified in suspecting
the respondent of being an emissary or a contact person between the extremist
leader stationed abroad and the sikh militants in India.
in the circumstances then existing and the material available with him the
Regional Passport Officer though that the respondent was likely to indulge in a
manner detrimental to the sovereignty, integrity and the security of India, it
could not be said that he was acting on no material. [1084G]
High Court was wrong in assuming that the Bhindranwala factor was extinguished
with his death. Movements don't die with individuals. It could not also be said
that there was no present danger on the date of the impounding of the passport
because that was two months after Bhimiranwala's death. There was no
justification for treating such a recent event as an incident of the ancient
past. [1084G-H; 1085A-B] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India,  2 SCR, 621,
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No.2793 of 1985.
the Judgment and Order dated 13.5. 1985 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in
C.W.P. No.236 of 1985 B. Datta, Additional Solicitor General, C.V. Subba Rao
and P. Parmeshwaran for Appellants.
Singh and R.S. Sodhi for the Respondent.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by CHINNAPPA REDDY, J. The passport of Smt.
Charanjit Kaur wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan was impounded by the Regional
Passport Officer, Delhi by an order dated August 18, 1984. The reasons for the order were not
furnished to her "in view of the grave nature of her activities and
serious implications in terms of sovereignty 1082 and integrity of India and the security of India" in terms of Section 10(5) of
the Passport Act, 1967. The reasons are however, to be found in the note made
by the Regional Passport Officer on the same day.
Paragraphs 1 to 3 of the note are as follows:
Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi
letter No. V.I/405/1/102/84 dated 18.8. 1984 relating to the activities of Smt.
Charanjit Kaur wife of Shri Jagjit Singh Chauhan. Smt. Chauhan is reported to
have links with Sikh extremists and may engage in activities detrimental to the
security of India. She is also planning to leave India shortly.
Reported activities detrimental to the security of India, attract the provision of Section
10(3)(c) of the Passport Act, 1967.
to the seriousness of the case and the likelihood of the subject trying to
leave the country, in public interest, it is not considered necessary to issue
a separate show cause notice. The same may, however, be incorporated in the
impounding order. The right of the subject for appeal and the procedure in this
regard may please also be explained in the impounding order, as per the
Rules." The basis of the communication from the Ministry of External
Affair to the Regional Passport Officer was the information furnished by the
Intelligence Bureau in two letters to the following effect:
to a report Charanjit Kaur wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh-Chauhan self-styled
President of the so-called National Council of Khalistan who is now resident in
U.K. is planning to leave India in the next few days. We are not
aware of her passport particulars. There are reasons to believe that she has
links with Sikh extremists and may engage in activities detrimental to the
security of the country and therefore she should not be allowed to leave India. It is requested that the MHA may
consider the advisability of impounding her passport." and,
enquiries reveal that Smt. Charanjit Kaur is presently residing at Tanda and Nagal
Khunga both in Hoshiarpur District. 1083
Charanjit Kaur has not come to notice participating openly in political
however the wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan President of the so-called
National Council of Khalistan based in U.K.
who has also been engaged in sustained anti-India and secessionist activities.
According to the disclosures made by ..... Smt. Charanjit Kaur and Balbir Singh
Sandhu self-styled Secretary General of the National Council of Khalistan used
to hold frequent meetings in camera with Bhindrawala and his P.A. and they
served as an important channel between Bhindrawala and his foreign links.
Chanranjit Kaur has also been personally pursuing the court cases of her
husband and one Ram Singh Tihara a Khalistan Protagonist in the Punjab and Haryana High Court." The
order of the Regional Passport Officer which was later confirmed on appeal by
the Chief Passport Officer was quashed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana
on the ground that there was no material for the conclusion of the Regional
Passport Officer that impounding of the passport was necessary in the interests
of the security and integrity of India and the security of India. The High
Court expressed the view that the "Bhindrawala factor" stood
eliminated long before the making of the order since Bhindrawala died on 6.6.84
whereas the order impounding the passport was made on 18.8.84. According to the
High Court it could not therefore be said that there was any danger in presenti
from the activities of Smt. Charanjit Kaur. The High Court appeared to think
that the order was made for the sole reason that Smt. Charanjit Kaur happened
to be the wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan. The Union of India has preferred
this appeal by special leave to this Court under Art. 136 of the Constitution.
The learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that there was information
before the Regional Passport Officer about the activities of the respondent
which was prejudicial to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of
India and the security of India and that it was not open to the Court to assess
the sufficiency or otherwise of the such information. He relied on the
observations of this Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India,  2 S.C.R.
where it was observed:
matters such as, grant, suspension, impounding or cancellation of passports,
the possible dealing of an individual with nationals and authorities of other
States have to 1084 be considered. The contemplated or possible activities
abroad of the individual may have to be taken into account. There may be
questions of national safety and welfare which transcend the importance of the
individual's inherent right to go where he or she pleases to go .... There can
be no doubt whatsoever that the orders under Section 10(3) must be based upon
some material even if that material consists, in some cases, of reasonable
suspicion arising from certain credible assertions made by reliable individuals
..." The learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, urged that
there was no material whatsoever to indicate that the respondent was involved
in any sort of political or prejudicial activity and the High Court was right
in holding that her passport had been impounded merely because she was the wife
of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan.
think that the appeal has to be accepted. The fact that the respondent is the
wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan, 'Self-styled President of the so-called
National Council of Khalistan' is not an irrelevant circumstance though singly,
by itself, it may appear innocuous. The circumstance has to be viewed in
conjunction with other circumstances. Here, we have the circumstance that the
wife of the 'Selfstyled President of the so-called Khalistan' who is stationed
in England has chosen to pay a visit to Punjab in these troubled days and to
call on Bhindrawala the acknowledged leader of the militant Sikh movement in
the company of Balbir Singh Sandhu, 'Self-styled Secretary General of the
National Council of Khalistan. She was reported to have come to India in the month of October, 1983, to
see her mother who was said to be seriously ill. She tried to leave India on 18.8.1984. Her mother died in
the month of November, 1985.
context of the circumstance then existing and the materials available with the
authorities, it can surely be said that the authorities were justified in
suspecting her of being an emissary or a contact person between Dr. Chauhan and
the Sikh militants in India. If the Regional Passport Officer
though that she was likely to indulge in a manner detrimental to the
sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of India, it cannot be said
that he was acting on no material. We do not agree with the High Court that the
'Bhindranwala factor' was extinguished with the death of Bhindranwala. We do
not understand the High Court's view at all. The movement which Bhindranwala
represented has not died. Movements don't die with individuals. Nor do we
understand the 1085 view of the High Court that there was no present danger on
the date of impounding of the passport because that was two months after Bhindranwala's
death. We do not see any justification for treating such a recent event as an
incident of the ancient past. We are satisfied that the order impounding the
respondent's passport is based on relevant material and not merely on the sole
circumstance that she is the wife of Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan. The appeal is
allowed, the judgment of the High Court is set aside and the Writ Petition is
dismissed. We wish to add that it is always open to the authorities concerned
to review the impounding order if they so desire. We are adding this sentence
because Sri Harder Singh argued that impounding the passport meant a permanent
deprivation of the passport.
we part with the case we must express our strong disapproval of the wholesale
condemnation of the Medical Profession in India by the High Court, implicit in
the following observation made by the High Court: "I may quote an actual
case to highlight the ignorance of Indian Doctors about the latest techniques practised
abroad". The occasion for making the remark was the argument advanced on
behalf of the respondent that he wanted to go back to England for better
treatment of her ailments. We consider that the remark was totally uncalled
for. The High Court also appeared to suggest that the Government of India
should permit the respondent Charanjit Kaur to go back to England and in
support of the suggestion relied on the appeal of Late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira
Gandhi to General Zia to permit Begum Bhutto to go abroad for treatment. The
reference to the appeal of Mrs. Gandhi to General Zia, in the context of the
facts of this case, appears to us to be entirely irrelevant.