The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently dismissed an accused man’s request to fly to Canada, citing the ongoing criminal proceedings. Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul acknowledged that a person’s right to travel cannot be restricted. However, when a criminal prosecution is proceeding against an accused person, courts must exercise caution before allowing that person to leave the nation, according to the Judge.
“If the person seeks to travel, even outside India, while a criminal case against him is pending, the Court shall have to be considerably more wary in giving any such permission,” the order ordered. The Court was considering a plea brought by Daljit Singh Pandher, who was contesting a trial court ruling refusing his application for a one-year visa to Canada while a criminal prosecution against him was still pending. Daljit was charged with cruelty to women under Section 498-A and criminal breach of trust under Section 406 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.
Daljit’s lawyer, SS Gill, contended that the petitioner’s fundamental right to travel abroad cannot be restricted just because a criminal prosecution against him is pending. He went on to say that because the issue was still pending, Daljit has not been able to continue his work in Canada or see his family. It was further argued that because everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, the Court should allow Dalji to travel to Canada. No supporting documentation was presented to the trial court to prove that Daljit was truly employed in Canada, according to the High Court. The High Court also agreed with the trial court’s assessment that his absence for a year could cause the trial to be delayed.
The fact that the petitioner was a Canadian citizen was also a factor in the Court’s decision to deny him entry to Canada. “It is pertinent to note that, as a Canadian citizen, the petitioner’s contention that he should be able to travel overseas is without merit, as India is also a foreign country for him, and there is a risk that if the petitioner is permitted to travel to Canada, he may abscond,” the Court stated.
The petition was dismissed on these grounds.