As reported on the 24th of February, 2020, the Supreme Court has re stated that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has absolutely no right to impound the passport of any individual and can only be impounded by the passport authorities. The Apex Court was considering the appeal which was filed by the ED against the Bombay High Court order wherein the court had upheld the order of a special judge who had directed the ED to return the passport, resident permit & PAN card of Ashok Ramchander Chugani.
The division bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee passed an order on 18th February, 2020 and said, "In view of the decision of this court in Suresh Nanda v Central Bureau of Investigation (2008) 3 SCC 674 in which this court has laid down that Enforcement Directorate has no right to impound the passport, it can only be impounded by the passport authorities. As such we are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order."
Additional Solicitor General of India - Aman lekhi urged the court to impose the conditions upon Ashok Chugani who may not leave the country till the conclusion of cases in the view of the fact that he is a Dutch national and two cases of serious offences are pending against him. The Court restrained him from travelling abroad for a period of two months and further observed that the ED may move the trial court for imposition of appropriate conditions in the trial court.
Author - Dyuti Pandya