A Delhi court on Friday (May 26) granted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi a no-objection certificate (NOC) for issuance of an “ordinary passport” for three years.
Gandhi had moved the court after he surrendered his diplomatic passport upon his disqualification as an MP. “I’m partly allowing your application. Not for 10 years but three years,” the judge told Gandhi’s lawyer.
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Gandhi is scheduled to visit the United States in the first week of June during which he will attend meetings and interact with university students.
He is slated to visit Washington DC, New York and San Francisco. The Congress leader is likely to address Indian Americans, meet lawmakers and interact with members of think tanks, Wall Street executives and university students.
The court, in the forenoon, reserved its order on Gandhi’s plea for the grant of NOC after hearing submissions of his lawyers and Swamy, the complainant in the National Herald case.
Swamy opposed the application, saying it was “devoid of any merit” and insisted the passport should be issued only for one year and renewed every year thereafter.
He also claimed that Gandhi’s Indian citizenship was under question and that Gandhi was a British citizen.
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Gandhi’s advocate Tarannum Cheema contested Swamy’s claim and said two petitions asking for initiating criminal proceedings against the Congress leader on the citizenship issue have been dismissed by higher courts.
Cheema, along with advocates Nikhil Bhalla and Sumit Kumar, urged the court to allow the passport to be issued for 10 years since such relief has been granted by higher courts in cases involving more serious offences. They said in the present case even charges have not been framed.
The National Herald case is based on a private criminal complaint by Swamy against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others, accusing them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
Swamy has accused them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct daily newspaper National Herald.
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Earlier, the magisterial court observed that the right to travel is a fundamental right and courts had placed no restrictions on Gandhi’ss movement. It said he has travelled several times without having to obtain permission.
The court, while granting bail to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in 2015, said the accused were reputed persons having deep political grassroots and there was no apprehension that they will flee.
An ordinary passport generally issued to adults it is valid for 10 years.
The Congress leader had moved the court seeking a no-objection certificate for the passport on Tuesday.
(With agency inputs)