The Madras High Court has given a clean chit to IPS officer S.Davidson Devasirvatham in the fake passport scam wherein Indian passports were fraudulently obtained for many Sri Lankan and Indian nationals by using forged documents.

The Court also complimented the State BJP President K.Annamalai for highlighting the fake passport scam.

The Bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan said "I give a clean chit to Shri.S.Davidson Devasirvatham IPS. At the same time, I compliment Shri.K.Annamalai, the State Bharatiya Janata Party President for having taken up the cause. He has played the role of a watch dog in a democracy."

The Court was hearing a writ petition by a man whose passport renewal application was not processed as the police had reported that a criminal case was pending against one Nazirudheen and that his-petitioner's passport was seized in that connection.

Advocate D. Rameshkumar appeared for the writ petitioner whereas regional passport officer was represented by Advocate V.Malaiyendran. State was represented by the Government Advocate G Sivaraja.

When the matter was taken up for hearing, the Government Advocate submitted that the petitioner had not come under their adverse notice. He further submitted that the one who was referred to in the police verification report figured as an accused registered on the file of the Q Branch CID Police, Madurai and he happened to be the petitioner's travel agent. Except for this relationship, there was nothing adverse to the petitioner.

The Court noted that it could have allowed the writ petition as prayed for by noting the stand of the government advocate but observed the case further.

The Court observed thus "My Lord the Hon'ble Chief Justice had allotted the General Miscellaneous portfolio which includes the subject of passports. Crime No.1 of 2019 was registered by Q Branch CID Police, Madurai based on credible information that one Vaithiyanathan in conspiracy with unknown public servants and others at Madurai and Trichy fraudulently obtained Indian passports for many Sri lankan and Indian nationals by using forged documents. The criminal acts in question had taken place during the period from 01.02.2019 to 30.06.2019."

"I was also informed that a public interest litigation in WP(MD)No.2563 of 2021 was filed seeking transfer of investigation to CBI. The Hon'ble Division Bench was however pleased to direct the Q Branch to complete the investigation within three months. This time limit was later extended by a period of six months. I felt surprised that this direction of the Hon'ble Division Bench was not complied with. Final report was yet to be filed on the ground that sanction had not been obtained for prosecuting the erring government servants.", Justice G.R. Swaminathan stated.

On the filing of the detailed status report by the police, the Court noted that as many as 41 persons are proposed to be prosecuted including officials from the Regional Passport Office, Madurai, and State police officials.

The Court observed that the Central Government had granted sanction in respect of one of its servants and declined for 13.

"The final report is to be filed shortly before Judicial Magistrate No.IV, Madurai. The learned Magistrate is directed to scrutinize the same and point out the defects, if any. Once the defects are pointed out, the investigation officer shall rectify forthwith. The learned Trial Magistrate shall take a call regarding cognizance expeditiously.", the Court said.

While observing the process of police verification in connection with passport applications the Court noted that the buck stops with the nodal officer.

"The involvement of the officials above the said rank may not really arise. During the relevant time, Shri.S.Davidson Devasirvatham, IPS was the Commissioner of Police, Madurai City. Had the final report been filed before the public interest litigation was instituted in the year 2021 ; had the time limit laid down by the Hon'ble Division Bench been adhered to ; had the sanctioning authorities accorded sanction without delay, the present controversy would not have arisen at all." the Court held while giving clean chit to IPS officer Davidson and allowing the writ petition.

Cause Title- Suresh Kumar v. The Regional Passport Officer & Anr.

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