23 Jan 2023 8:31 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has granted a final opportunity to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and Central Government for filing a response to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot's plea challenging the requirement for state government ministers to seek political clearances from the Centre for personal foreign visits.Justice Prathiba M Singh granted four weeks’ time to LG and Centre through...
The Delhi High Court has granted a final opportunity to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and Central Government for filing a response to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot's plea challenging the requirement for state government ministers to seek political clearances from the Centre for personal foreign visits.
Justice Prathiba M Singh granted four weeks’ time to LG and Centre through Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Finance, for their responses, while listing the matter for hearing on May 22.
The court had issued notice on Gahlot's petition in August last year.
Following LG's refusal to grant clearance for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Singapore visit to attend the World Cities Summit, Gahlot had last year approached court seeking "broader guidelines" for permissions required by elected constitutional functionaries to travel abroad.
He had submitted that the requirement of political clearances from the Ministry of External Affairs for personal foreign visits of state government ministers violates the latter's right to privacy and the dignity of the constitutional office.
The plea submits that the use of delay on part of the respondents to effectively deny clearances for official foreign visits is an "arbitrary non-exercise of power" and the same must be remedied by appropriate guidelines.
The plea avers that Kejriwal’s visit would have been significant for the interests of Delhi citizens as well as the nation.
The LG advised rejection of clearances on the grounds that the world city summit was a conference for city mayors and therefore, unsuitable for the Chief Minister's office, and that, in any case, the Delhi Government did not have exclusive domain over urban governance in the national capital, as per the petition.
It therefore submits that the respondents had used the discretion on travel clearances to grant or deny travel clearances to various ministers of Delhi Government in an arbitrary manner.
"The Chief Minister was previously denied permission to attend the C-40 World Mayors' Summit in Copenhagen in 2019. The petitioner, who holds the portfolio of transport in the council of ministers had also requested clearance to visit London on the invitation of 'Transport for London' but there was not even a response from the concerned authorities in the Central Government till the time the request became infructuous...the petitioner is directly impacted by the draconian and invasive regime requiring clearances for even personal visits abroad made by state ministers. Being an important stakeholder in the Delhi model of urban governance and managing a significant part of urban design, the petitioner is deeply interested in ensuring that the Delhi government feature in national and international fora," the plea states.
Case Title: Shri Kailash Gahlot v. Lieutenant Governor, NCT of Delhi & Ors.