On June 4th, holding the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) action of impounding Jignesh Shah’s passport ‘contrary to law’, Bombay High Court asked the agency to return the respondent’s passport. Jignesh Shah, the Founder, and Chairman Emeritus of 63 moons technologies limited is allegedly involved in the NSEL case that resulted in a payment default of Rs 5600 crores, and later he was arrested.
While the first generation entrepreneur was receiving bail on 22nd January, reviewing the case, the court had imposed certain conditions on him. CBI stated that the nature of the crime is too critical and so, the respondent might flee the country. Hence, the impounding of his passport is necessary until the investigation proceeds further.
Thereafter, circumstances changed and CBI also finished their investigation, but the restrictions were still not been revoked. On behalf of the founder of Financial Technologies Limited India (FTIL), currently known as 63 Moons Technologies Limited, Jignesh Shah, senior advocate Amit Desai filed an application in the Bombay High Court seeking the return of Jignesh Shah’s passport. He argued that since the investigation is over, CBI must return the passport to the respondent. Also, under the Passport Act, section 10 (3), CBI has the authority to seize his passport but not impound it, only the Passport Authority has that authority.
CBI counsel, Hiten Venegaokar, opposed the application saying that the offense is too serious and returning the passport can lead to the ‘applicant (Jignesh Shah) fleeing away from justice’.
Referring to a ruling of Supreme Court, Justice Naik said, “In the present case, the CBI, under the guise of the seizure of the passport, has retained the same for almost three years, which amounts to impounding and not permissible under law,”
He further added, “The illegal impounding therefore cannot be continued by handing over the passport by the respondents to the Passport Authority after a lapse of more than three years. However, it would be open to the Passport Authority to initiate any action under Section 10(3)(e) of the Passport Act. The passport, however, is required to be returned to the applicant.”