Judges have to give details of foreign trips: SC
The Supreme Court Monday restored a government rule requiring apex court and high court judges to keep the home and external affairs ministries in the loop when travelling abroad, even on private visits.
The apex court stayed a Delhi High Court order which quashed the provision of a government circular that sought information from foreign-bound judges on boarding, lodging, whether accompanied by spouse, duration of visit, the organisation that had extended the invitation, purpose of visit and the cost of tour.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice J. Chelameswar suspended the operation of the high court's May 25 order by which it quashed the para 10 of the government's circular on the issue.
The high court held that the seeking of information lowered the dignity of the constitutional posts held by the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.
According to the circular, the information sought from the judges was to be routed to the law and justice ministry through the Chief Justice of India and chief justices of high courts.
The high court had also modified paras 8(a), 8(b) and 9(e) of the circular issued by the law and justice ministry.
Para 9(e) said that foreign-bound judges' proposal of private visit should reach for approval 15 days before the commencement of the scheduled date of travel.
The high court had modified the para providing for judges to furnish information about their travel plans to the chief justice of the apex court or the chief justices of high courts.
As a consequence of the apex court's order, all judges of the apex court and the high court planning to travel abroad, even on private trips, will now have to furnish all details of their schedule.
The petition by law and justice ministry said even union ministers took approval before going abroad, including on personal visits.
The high court failed to appreciate that judges were extended special privileges during travel on diplomatic passport, the petition said.