Court cannot impound passport in proceeding of false case of cruelty section 498a

Question asked on: 12/02/2018

My wife has filed a false of cruelty under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The case is still pending and all accused are be on bail. I am a businessman and used to travel abroad for business purposes. I have a serious concern about whether can court impounds passport? Except this, no criminal case is pending. 

Advised by: Shivendra Pratap Singh,

Section 104 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 empowers the court to impound documents, or things produce before it. Additionally, Section 10(3)of The Passports Act, 1967 enables the passport authority to impound or revoke a passport or travel document. 

The investigating officer may seize any document in the course of the investigation and produce it before the court. Section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the police officer to seize a document but does not authorize to impound such document.

It is evident from the provision of section 10(3) of The Passports Act, 1967 that only passport authority can impound passport. When police officer seizes a passport, he shall inform the passport authority and request him that impounding of passport is necessary under the provision of section 10(3).  

Whenever court satisfies that seized documents should be retained for some time then the cour,t may impound it under section 104 CrPC. If the paper is neither seized nor produced before the court, then the court cannot exercise its power under section 104 CrPC. In your case, the police officer did not seize your passport then how the court can impound it?

In Suresh Nanda v. CBI, (2008) 3 SCC 674; the Supreme Court held that the court could not impound a passport. The court further stated that:

“Impounding of a “passport” is provided for in Section 10(3) of the Passports Act. The Passports Act is a special law while CrPC is a general law. It is well settled that the special law prevails over the general law. Section 104 only enables the court to impound any document or thing other than a passport.”

Therefore, the court cannot impound your passport under section 104 CrPC. In Preeti Gupta v. the State of Jharkhand, (2010) 7 SCC 667; the Supreme Court opined that most of the complaints Section 498-A IPC is false. The ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and punish the guilty and protect the innocent, but false cases are frustrating this object.

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