HC disposes of interim application filed by actress Monica Bedi

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Mar 2018 09:47:14



By Neetesh Dubey

The Madhya Pradesh High Court, on Tuesday, has released the order on the Interim Application filed by actress Monika Bedi praying before the High Court for granting her passport. The single bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising Justice, C V Sirpurkar has said that “Keeping in view the gravity of the matter, this court is of the view that it would not be appropriate at this stage to specify the period of 10 years for issuing passport to the respondent, especially in the case where the offence for which the respondent was tried, related to preparation of forged documents and providing false information to the authorities for the purpose of obtaining passport in a fictitious name. The court cannot lose sight of the fact that the matter was taken up in suo motu revision by a co-ordinate bench of this court. At this stage, it would not be apposite to comment upon the merits of the revision or scope of interference by the High Court. Since the case is ripe for final hearing and the criminal revision is already 10 years old, the grievance of the petition may be redressed by directing expeditious hearing of the matters. Accordingly, the Registry is directed to list this case for final hearing expeditiously before the appropriate Bench. With aforesaid directions, interim application stands disposed off.”

The single bench of MPHC has heard the criminal revision filed by Fauzia Usman alias Monika Bedi. This interlocutory order shall govern the disposal of interim application dated on October 31, 2017, an application filed on behalf of respondent Fauzia Usman alias Monika Bedi in Criminal Revision praying that the court may specify the period of 10 years for grant of passport to the respondent.The facts necessary for disposal of this application may be summarised as hereunder: The respondent was charged for an offence punishable under sections 420, 468 and 471 of the IPC and Section 12(1)(b) of the Passport Act, 1967 by the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal. By judgment dated on July 16, 2007 passed in case, she was acquitted with the finding that the prosecution had totally failed to prove the charges. The judgment of acquittal in respect of respondent Fauzia Usman alias Monika Bedi was challenged before the court of Sessions Judge, Bhopal in Criminal Appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor under Section 378(1) (a) of the CrPC. This appeal was also dismissed by judgment dated on September 6, 2007 passed by the Sessions Judge, Bhopal holding that the appeal had been filed without proper legal sanction/direction/permission of the District Magistrate, Bhopal and was therefore, not maintainable. The appellate court also considered the appeal on merits and found that there was no substance in the appeal. By order dated on January 18, 2008, a co-ordinate Bench of this court took up the case in suo motu revision. Subsequently, a revision against acquittal against the same appellate judgment also came to be filed by the State.

On an application moved by respondent Fauzia Usman alias Monika Bedi, a co-ordinate Bench of this court, by order dated on June 25, 2012, directed the Registrar Judicial to issue a legal no objection certificate for moving an application for grant of passport to the respondent. The Passport Authority was given the discretion to allow or disallow the application for passport; however, in view of the notification No.G.S.R.570 (E) issued by Ministry of External Affairs dated August 25, 1993 published in Part II Section 3 Sub-section (1) of the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated August 23, 1993, the passport was issued only for a period of one year.

Counsel for the respondent Fauzia Usman alias Monika Bedi submitted that the respondent is not a convicted offender as yet. In fact, she has been acquitted by two courts; therefore, the presumption of innocence stands fortified. It has also been submitted that the judgment of acquittal passed by the Trial Court was affirmed by the Sessions Court way back in the year 2007. This suo motu revision and the revision filed by the State against acquittal, has been pending for past 10 years. The scope for interference in concurrent judgments of acquittal by way of revision is extremely limited. The foreign countries take a dim view of the passport issued for a limited period; therefore, the respondent faces difficulty in obtaining Visa of different countries. The respondent is an actor and is required to travel abroad for assignment; however, because of the passport issued for a limited period, she finds it difficult to travel abroad and suffers loss of those assignments. Her aged parents live in Norway. She finds it difficult to visit them.

Due to this long pending Criminal Revision against acquittal, her right to earn her livelihood is being adversely affected; therefore, it has been prayed that a no objection certificate be issued specifying a period of 10 years for issuing passport, like in the case of any other citizen.