PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has been issued a regular passport with a validity of 10 years, after more than three years of legal battle.
Authorities had declined to renew Mehbooba's passport since 2019 citing "adverse" police report, after which she moved the Delhi High Court. The high court, in an order in March this year, stated that the passport authority should decide within three months on issuing a fresh travel document to her.
The former chief minister got her new passport just days ahead of a hearing scheduled in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court this week on her daughter's plea for a regular travel document for herself.
In her plea in the Jammu and Kashmir HC, Mehbooba's daughter Iltija challenged the decision of the passport office to give her a country-specific passport with a limited validity of two years to facilitate her higher education. Iltija had refused to accept the conditional travel document and approached the high court with a plea for a regular passport for all countries and with a validity of 10 years.
The new passport given to Mehbooba, the last chief minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state before it was bifurcated in 2019, is valid from June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2033.
After several rounds back-and-forth pleas in the Delhi High Court, Justice Pratibha M Singh had ordered in March this year that the passport authority should decide within three months on issuing a fresh travel document to Mehbooba.
"Considering that the matter is remanded back to the passport officer and the initial rejection was two years ago, let the passport officer concerned take a decision expeditiously and in any case within three months," the judge had noted in the order.
The court's order had come on a petition by Mehbooba seeking a direction to the passport authorities to take an early decision on her appeal regarding the issuance of a new passport.
In her plea to the Delhi High Court, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said there was a considerable delay in issuing a new passport to her despite reminders and that no decision was being taken on her appeal.
In February this year, Mehbooba had sought the intervention of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for the issuance of the passport, saying she had been waiting for it for the past three years to take her 80-year-old mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
In March 2021, Mehbooba and her mother Gulshan Ara were denied passports after the Jammu and Kashmir Police had cited an "adverse report". Her mother had been issued a passport two months back.
National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah congratulated Mehbooba and hoped that now she would be able to fulfil her religious duties as desired by her.