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Delhi High Court strucks down Central Government order for political clearance to judges for travelling abroad

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An order by the Central government to seek political clearance for judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts mandatory for their private visits, was struck down by the Delhi High Court today.

Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice Jasmeet Singh clearly said that this is uncalled for condition for the high offices that the judges hold.

Petition was filed by one Aman Vachar  who challenged the order of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) The petition stated that this only disrespecting and degrading the official positioning but also infringes the Right of Privacy of the judges.

The Central government was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, along with advocate Imon Bhattacharya who believed that concerned information about the abroad travels of the judges is required ,so that in case of any emergency they can be extended requisite assistance.

The Court, in its statement said that it is a surprise that the Centre’s submission overlooked the fact that information about judges’ travel plans is known the moment a request is made to the Consular, Passport and Visa Division of the MEA for issuance of a “Visa Support Notes Verbale”.

The Court also said that in any case, if an Indian citizen, including a judge, is caught in a crisis, Indian embassies/missions abroad are duty-bound to extend assistance to the extent possible, as and when they receive information of such an occurrence.

“Accordingly, the OM dated 13.07.2021, to the extent it requires the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to seek political clearance qua private visits abroad, is struck down, in view of the reasons articulated hereinabove and given the fact that this issue has received the attention of this court on an earlier occasion, as noticed hereinabove,” the Court ordered.

Talking about an earlier visit to this case…the Court said that a judgment was passed in 2012 by Delhi High Court that challenged guidelines that had been issued concerning foreign visits by judges of the Supreme Court and the High court which was dispensed.

And so, in the present petition also, the government should understand the same.

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