In the wake of a hearing at Madras High court, yesterday, the following observations and suggestions were put forward.

·         Amendments in the Passport Rules, so that lenders can keep passports of those availing loans.

·         Suggestions aimed at preventing defaulters from fleeing the country.

·         Passport not to be returned till loan is cleared.

All this came about while hearing a plea moved by S Mangalam, a suspended anganwadi worker seeking a direction to the authorities to re-instate her in service. The fact of the case is, When the plea came up for hearing, the Government advocate informed the court that the petitioner was suspended from service as she was not present in the anganwadi during a surprise inspection and some other person was found to be cooking food meant for children in a cowshed.

Later during the course of the hearing, it also came to light that the petitioner had travelled to Singapore without informing or obtaining prior permission from the department, that too on her relative’s passport. Appalled by her act, the court censured her, for her wilful dereliction of duty and for superseding facts to the court. The Court observed and directed, “Since it is a clear case of abuse of the process of the court by the petitioner in attempting to hoodwink the court, serve punishment of imprisonment of not less than two months could be ordered. However, taking note of the fact that the petitioner is a lady, this court directs the jurisdictional police concerned to arrest her, remand her in judicial custody to undergo simple imprisonment for one week”.

“This apart, ration card, if any given by the Government to the petitioner and her relative, who parted with the passport to the petitioner, shall be immediately withdrawn and she shall not be permitted to avail any benefit from the State. But at the same time, there is no impediment for the family members of the petitioner and her relative to avail the benefits from the Government” Justice Vaidyanathan” said.

In furtherance, the Madras High Court has suggested to the Central Government to bring in appropriate amendments in the Passport Rules, so that banks and financial institutions can demand surrender of passports from those availing loans and prevent defaulters from fleeing the country.

“It is suggested that in order to prevent defaulters from fleeing away from justice and migrating to an alien country, the Government is expected to modify rules regarding surrender of passport of the person availing loan, to the concerned institution, so that the person cannot travel abroad without the knowledge of such financial institution. It can also be made clear that, till the loan is cleared, passport will not be handed over and in case of failure to repay the loan or any default, passport will not be handed over and passport may be temporarily cancelled. Passport Act and Rules can also be amended to this effect that in case of renewal of passport necessary endorsements, should be obtained from banks, other financial institutions or suitable orders should be obtained from the jurisdictional court or from any other appropriate forum”, Justice Vaidyanathan said.

This is a very welcoming suggestion by the Madras High Court to amend the Passport Act and Rules, so that the defaulters can never dream of cheating the financial institutions, by fleeing to another country, where they seek refuge and protection. It is commendable to say, these suggestions when implemented would stop in future, the likes of vijay mallya, nirav modi and others from taking recourse in a far land,