The Passport of ‘A’ was cancelled by a passport officer without assigning any reason of his action under Sec. 10 of the Passport Act. ‘A’ challenged the action as unconstitutional and violate of his fundamental right under Article 21. Decide.
In Menaka Gandhi vs. Union of India Air 1978 SC 597, the Supreme Court held that the order withholding reasons for impounding the passport was therefore not only in breach of statutory provisions (Passport Act) but also in violation of the rule of natural justice embodied in the maxim “audi alteram partem” .
Although there are no positive words in the statute (Passport Act) requiring that the party shall be heard, yet the justice of the Common Law will supply this omission of Legislative.
The power conferred under Section 13(3)(c) of the Act on the passport authority to impound a passport is a quasi-judicial power. The rules of natural justice would therefore be applicable in the exercise of this power. Natural justice is a great humanizing principle intended to invest law with fairness and to secure justice. Fairness in action, therefore, demands that an opportunity to be heard should be given to the person affected.
A provision requiring of such opportunity to the affected person can and should be read by implication in the Passport Act, 1967. If such provisions were held to be incorporated in the Act by necessary implication, the procedure prescribed for impounding passport would be right, fair and just and would not suffer from the vice of arbitrariness or unreasonableness.
It is, therefore, held that the procedure ‘established’ by the Act for impounding a passport is in conformity with the requirement of Article 21 and is not violative of that Article.