Smuggling case: HC rejects pleas of 2 Malaysians to release passport

The petitioners sought a direction to set aside the August 1 order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Coimbatore dismissing their petitions to return their passports from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
Madras High Court, Malaysian passport
Madras High Court, Malaysian passportDT File Photo

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court rejected petitions of two Malaysian nationals who were booked on charges of carrying 4.2 kilograms of gold into India without paying the duty charges to the Customs Department.

Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy passed the orders on dismissing the petitions filed by Tangeshwaran and T Nandhini – two Malaysian citizens.

The petitioners sought a direction to set aside the August 1 order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Coimbatore dismissing their petitions to return their passports from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

“Chief Judicial Magistrate has considered the likelihood of the petitioners fleeing justice and considering the seriousness of the charges faced by them, withheld the passport. The decision of the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate is in accordance with the dictum led by this Court in S T Gomer case,” the judge held.

According to the petitioners, as per the judgment of Madras High Court in the Thanapal Vs Assistant Collector case, wherein it has been held that the Customs Authorities have no right to seize the passport under Section 110 of the Customs Act. He further held that the DRI has no power to impound a passport and that the passport authorities only could impound it.

However, the judge rejected the contention saying that the contention of the counsel for the petitioners is incorrect saying that the passports of the petitioners are not issued under the Indian Passports Act, 1967 and therefore, the Regional Passport Authorities cannot impound the same in exercise of the powers under Section 10 of the Act.

The petitioners were arrested in April for taking gold bars worth Rs 4.58 crore from Singapore to Coimbatore illegally.

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