Now, RaGa will have to apply for Visa like any other civilian.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been granted a partial relief regarding his passport plea by a Delhi court. Following his disqualification as a member of the Lok Sabha and subsequent loss of his MP privileges, Gandhi had surrendered his diplomatic passport. However, the court has now granted him a no-objection certificate (NOC) for three years, allowing him to apply for an ordinary passport.
The court stated, “I’m partly allowing your application. Not for 10 years but three years,” in response to Gandhi’s lawyer’s request for a NOC to obtain an ordinary passport after surrendering his diplomatic passport as an MP.
Gandhi is scheduled to travel to the United States next week, where he plans to address a public rally at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 4. This visit marks his first public rally in the US and includes a talk at Stanford University.
However, the plea faced opposition from senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy. Swamy expressed concerns that allowing Gandhi to travel abroad might hinder the ongoing investigation in the National Herald case.
Nevertheless, the court took note of the fact that the matter had been pending since 2018 and observed that Gandhi had been traveling abroad without any apprehension of fleeing or absconding. The court emphasized that the right to travel is a fundamental right.
The National Herald case, currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, originated from a private complaint lodged by Subramanian Swamy in 2012.
Diplomatic passports, which are issued to individuals holding diplomatic status or deputed for official duties abroad by the Government of India, differ from regular passports. While diplomatic passports are maroon in color, regular passports are navy blue. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India issues diplomatic passports, which are valid for five years. Such passports offer several benefits, including visa-free entry to most countries, priority processing at immigration checkpoints, assistance from Indian embassies and consulates abroad, and exemption from taxes on income earned outside of India.
As per the court’s decision, Rahul Gandhi will be able to apply for an ordinary passport and travel to the US for his upcoming engagements. However, with the BJP expressing concerns about potential implications on the National Herald case, the matter continues to be a topic of contention.