New Delhi, Aug 27 :
Paving the way for the return of suspended Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi to India, the Delhi High Court Wednesday ordered the restoration of his passport.
A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru allowed Modi’s plea challenging the revocation of his passport.
The regional passport office in Mumbai had revoked Modi’s passport March 3, 2011, following an Enforcement Directorate probe into allegations of financial irregularities in the IPL.
Modi is facing cases under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) related to the IPL and his presence was required before the Enforcement Directorate.
The bench said it was not expressing any opinion with regard to the alleged FEMA violations by Modi, who is currently in Britain.
The bench held that the revocation order was invalid.
“We must examine the direct and inevitable consequence of the revocation order. At the time the revocation order was passed, the appellant was already abroad in Britain.
“The direct consequence of the revocation order was that the appellant (Modi) could not travel to any country outside of Britain.
“He could not attend any conferences or meetings in any other country where he could have expressed his views on cricket or on the organisation and administration of cricket.
“To that extent, it can be said that the ‘direct and inevitable’ consequence of the revocation order was to impinge upon his freedom of speech and expression,” the judgment said.
“Now, this could be legitimate if the revocation order could be said to be in the interests of the general public, of course, limited to the interests of ‘public order, decency or morality’.
“The alleged infraction on the part of the appellant (Modi) could hardly be stated to fall foul of ‘public order, decency or morality’. Therefore, in our view, the revocation order was invalid,” the court said.
Modi, who has been elected president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association but remains banned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), had challenged the single bench order of Jan 16, 2013 that dismissed his plea challenging the revocation of his passport.
The Enforcement Directorate had made a request to the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai that Modi be either called back or his passport be revoked.