NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has struck down a Central government office memorandum requiring Supreme Court and High Court judges to get political clearance for private visits abroad, saying that such a condition is ‘uncalled for’ in view of the high offices the judges hold.
A bench headed by Justice Rajiv Shakdher, while dealing with a challenge to the mandate, noted that when guidelines were issued by the Centre in 2011 in relation to the foreign visits by judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, it had ‘dispensed with the requirement of political clearance for private foreign visits’ and the same ought to have been followed this time as well.
“In our view, in the instant OM (Office Memorandum), the same regime ought to have been followed. Therefore, insofar as the instant OM dated July 13, 2021, requires judges of the SC and the HCs to seek political clearance for private foreign visits, it is uncalled for, given the high offices they are holding, especially given the fact that nothing has changed since the 2011 guidelines,” stated the bench, also comprising Justice Jasmeet Singh, in its order passed on April 1.
The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, defended the OM and told the court that information concerning judges travelling abroad is required so that in case of any emergency requisite assistance can be extended abroad.