National Herald case: Delhi court allows Rahul’s plea for fresh passport

Delhi court granted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi a no-objection certificate (NOC) for issuance of an ordinary passport for three years

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday pronounced order in favour of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi allowing his plea seeking a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the issuance of an “ordinary” passport.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vaibhav Mehta of Rouse Avenue Court, however, directed that the NOC in respect of the passport will be valid for only three years after Gandhi having prayed that the same be granted for 10 years.

Gandhi on Tuesday moved the court seeking an NOC in order to get a fresh “ordinary” passport after he surrendered his diplomatic travel document after his disqualification as an MP.

Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had opposed Gandhi’s application saying that if the Congress leader is allowed to travel abroad, it may hamper the probe in the National Herald case. The case was filed by Swamy against Rahul, his mother Sonia Gandhi, their companies and associated persons.

Swamy on Friday told the court that he was told by an official in Britain about Gandhi declaring himself a British citizen, therefore, under the Indian law, his Indian citizenship should be cancelled.

“I was in Britain recently and there, an official told me that Gandhi has declared himself as a British citizen. Under Indian law, his Indian citizenship should be directly cancelled,” he said.

After his conviction by the Gujarat court on the controversial remark “all thieves have Modi surname”, Rahul Gandhi had surrendered his diplomatic passport after his disqualification as a member of Parliament (MP).

Swamy opposed the application saying that there is no fundamental right to a passport and that there was no valid reason to grant a passport for 10 years.

“He has asked for a passport valid for 10 years, which is maximum. But this is a special case. There is no such thing as a fundamental right to a passport. He has no valid reason for the passport for 10 years. Permission should be granted after analysing the other correlated matters,” he said.

Backing up Gandhi, Advocate Tarannum Cheema said that passports have been issued to people accused of graver offences.

“Ten years is given as a matter of routine. Insofar as the citizenship part is concerned, firstly the document he has annexed will not amount to criminal proceedings. We have not heard anything from the Ministry since 2019. People who have been involved in graver offences have been granted passports for ten years. It includes 2G and other cases,” Cheema said.

To which, Swamy said that if something wrong has happened in the past, it should not be made a precedent.

Earlier, Gandhi’s counsel had told the court that there are no criminal cases pending against him and therefore he can be granted an NOC.

On November 1, 2012, Swamy had filed a private complaint in the court alleging that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have committed fraud and land grabbing worth Rs 16 billion by acquiring a publicly limited company called Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) through their owned private company, Young Indian.

The court had on December 19, 2015, granted bail to Gandhi and others in the case.

“The applicant ceased to be a Member of Parliament in March 2023 and as such he surrendered his diplomatic passport and is applying for a fresh ordinary passport. By way of the present application, the applicant is seeking permission and no objection from this Court for issuance of a fresh ordinary passport to him,” Gandhi’s application read.

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