“Political clearance given by MEA”: UOI tells Delhi HC in AAP Minister Atishi Marlena’s plea seeking clearance for UK visit

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AAP minister Atishi Marlena has moved the high court seeking direction to Centre to decide on granting the requisite clearances to enable her to visit the United Kingdom (UK) for an official visit next week.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday was told by the Union of India that political clearance has been given by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi Education Minister Atishi Marlena’s plea seeking direction to Centre to decide on granting the requisite clearances to enable her to visit the United Kingdom (UK) for an official visit next week.

Advocate Pavan Narang appearing for the Union of India apprised the vacation bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh that on June 6, the “political clearance” was given.

The counsel also informed the court that the petitioner may now apply for a visa to the UK and the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) will clear it, and that it is a mere formality.

Accordingly, the court disposed of the petition.

The petition filed by Atishi stated that the AAP leader has been invited in her official capacity by Cambridge University to speak at a conference on ‘India at 100: Towards Becoming a Global Leader’ to be held on June 15.

It stated that the proposed visit is significant for Delhi’s governance as it will allow the city government to "showcase the leaps" made in areas of education, health, and urban development. “Any further delay in granting clearance to the visit would render the purpose infructuous”, it said.

The plea contended that requiring constitutional functionaries and ministers in state government to seek the Centre's "political clearance" for traveling abroad violates the dignity and independence of a constitutional office.

The plea stated while the Delhi government accorded administrative clearance for travel last month, the central government "had only been responding" with queries and clarification after the Lieutenant-Governor forwarded the proposal to it, thus delaying the whole process, including applying for a visa.

The proposal was forwarded to the central government authorities for processing of further clearance. It said that it had been more than 10 days and still no clearance had yet been issued to her.

"In the present matter, the respondents' non-decision on the matter till 06.06.2023, has left only eight days for all further formalities and visa approval, serving in effect as an arbitrary non-decision of the proposed visit," the plea said.

The petition claimed that Atishi has arranged multiple visits to primary schools in the UK to "ensure that Delhi's children gain from best practices in primary school education abroad" and that the trip would be "crucial for a for exchanging ideas on improving urban governance and showcasing Delhi's own progress in urban design". Furthermore, it stated that delay in granting travel clearances violates the right to privacy.

Case Title: Atishi Marlena v. Union of India & Ors.