In more trouble for Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai is all set to impound her passport for not disclosing the pending criminal cases in her passport application.
Sources in the passport office said that since she has surrendered the travel document on December 9, it is automatically to be impounded.
A complaint was filed against the activist in June this year by a journalist stating that Patkar had obtained her passport by concealing and suppressing material facts from the RPO Mumbai.
The complainant had provided the details of 9 criminal cases with documentary evidence, pending against her in various districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Patkar in her passport application of March 30, 2017 claimed that no criminal cases are pending against her and in a column of pending criminal cases, if any, she declared “None”. The activist has reportedly sought time to respond to the notice of the RPO Mumbai while surrendering her passport.
The RPO Mumbai also sought details of pending cases from the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh, who confirmed to RPO that charge-sheet has been filed against her in five cases.
In the show cause notice to Patkar, the RPO Mumbai asked as to why her passport should not be impounded for failing to disclose information regarding pendency of criminal cases against her.
It noted that nine criminal cases have been registered against her — three are in Barwani, one in Alirajpur and five in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh — and are still pending adjudication.
“While obtaining passport bearing number… dated March 30, 2017 you have not disclosed the fact regarding pendency of above cases and obtained passport by suppression of material information.
“In view of the same it is proposed to impound your passport bearing number… and any other passport if issued subsequently under Section 10 (3)(e) of the Passports Act, 1967. You are requested to state why action should not be taken under Section 12 (1) of the Passports Act 1967,” the notice issued by the passport office on October 18 said.
The passport officials had sought her explanation within 10 days from the date of this communication failing which action would be taken.
National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) President V K Saxena also wrote to the RPO alleging that the NBA activist “deliberately didn’t disclose” two other criminal cases lodged by him against her while applying for the travel document.
In the November 22 letter, he said the two criminal cases against her were lodged by him in 2001 and 2006 and are pending in New Delhis Saket Court but while applying for the passport in 2017 she not only did not mention the nine cases from Madhya Pradesh pending against her but these two cases as well.
“She deliberately didn’t disclose the two pending cases in Saket Court while applying for the passport,” he wrote in the letter to the passport officer. “In case she has not disclosed about these two criminal cases pending against her you may initiate action as per law,” he said.
Saxena in a statement said that Patkar, who was earlier severely censured by the three Judges Bench of Supreme Court in 2011 for filing false affidavit and pleading in the court related to project affected people in Madhya Pradesh, has been found guilty of suppressing vital information in her passport application.
“Now she conceals her cases of criminality in her passport application. Is she planning to run away from justice to a foreign land?”, he said, alleging that she has been misinforming various forums.
Patkar had contested Mumbai North-East Parliament seat in 2014 on the AAP ticket but lost the election.