Singapore visit row: Delhi HC notice on Kailash Gahlot’s plea on ‘political clearances’

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice on Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot’s plea against ‘political clearances’ of state ministers for abroad visits, following controversy on the approval of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Singapore visit which did not land on time.

Issuing notice to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Union of India through Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Ministry of Finance, Justice Yashwant Varma posted the further hearing for January 23 next year.

The court also granted eight weeks’ time to the respondents to file a counter affidavit.

As per Gahlot’s plea, political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for personal foreign visits of state government ministers violates their right to privacy and the dignity of the constitutional office.

Referring to Kejriwal’s Singapore visit, the plea said: “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 plea read.

It further said: “…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 features in national and international fora.”

The controversy had erupted between the Centre and state after Kejriwal finally dropped the plan to attend the World Cities Summit in Singapore following a delay in permissions from the Lt. Governor.

“Only the Central government can be held responsible for CM Arvind Kejriwal not being able to attend the World Cities Summit in Singapore and the subsequent humiliation the country has had to face. The file regarding clearance for the Chief Minister’s visit was sent to the LG on June 7 itself. The LG sat on the file for one and a half months and returned the file on July 21. By then, not only had there been a lot of delay, but the deadline till July 20 to complete the travel formalities had also passed,” the Delhi government had said in a statement after the incident.

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