The Madras High Court has suggested that the Centre bring in appropriate amendments in the Passport Rules, so that banks and financial institutions can demand surrender of passports from loan defaulters and prevent them from fleeing the country.
Justice S Vaidyanathan made the suggestion while dismissing a plea moved by S Mangalam, a suspended anganwadi worker seeking direction to authorities to reinstate her in service.
"It is suggested that to prevent defaulters from fleeing from justice and migrating to an alien country, government is expected to modify rules on surrender of passport of the person availing loan, to the institution concerned, so that the person cannot travel abroad without the knowledge of such financial institution," the judge said.
It can also be made clear that till the loan is cleared, passport would not be handed over and in case of failure passport may be temporarily cancelled, the judge said.
Passport Act and Rules can also be amended to the effect that in case of renewal of passport necessary endorsement should be obtained from banks or suitable orders obtained from the jurisdictional court or appropriate forum, Justice Vaidyanathan said.
When the petition came up recently, the government advocate informed the court that the petitioner was suspended from service as she was not present in the anganwadi during a surprise inspection and found to be cooking food meant for children in a cow shed.
Later, it also came to light that the petitioner had travelled to Singapore without informing or obtaining prior permission from the department that too on her relative's passport.
Appalled by her act the court censured her for willful dereliction of duty.
Since it is a clear case of abuse of the process of the court by the petitioner in attempting to hoodwink the court, severe punishment of imprisonment of not less than two months could be ordered, the judge said.
"However, taking note of the fact that the petitioner is a lady, this court directs the jurisdictional police concerned to arrest her and remand to judicial custody to undergo simple imprisonment for one week," the court said.
"This apart, ration card, if any, given by the government to the petitioner and her relative, who parted with the passport to the petitioner, shall be immediately withdrawn and she shall not be permitted to avail any benefit from the state," it said.
At the same time, there is no impediment for family members of the petitioner and her relative to avail the benefits from the government, Justice Vaidyanathan said.