loc: Citizen cannot be detained, debarred from leaving country under LOC until investigation, trial face: HC

Delhi High Court Under the Look Out Circular, a citizen cannot be detained, arrested or prevented from leaving the country, it said on Monday.LoC) unless suspected of having been involved in commission or facing investigation or trial for offenses cognizable under law. It said that a parent agency can only seek information of arrival and/or departure of such citizen.

Justice Mukta Gupta observed that when such LOC is issued, the authorities at the point of departure or arrival cannot detain the citizen even on the pretext of giving such information to the agency concerned.

The Court observed that the above stand was clear from clause (h) of para 8 of the OM issued by FRRO To issue a Look Out Circular (LoC) in respect of Indian citizens and foreigners on October 27, 2010 and said, “What cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly”.

The court made the remarks while considering a plea by Dhruv Tiwari, who had challenged the LoC issued against him in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

He approached the court after being detained for three hours on his arrival at the airport last year India Due to LOC

The petitioner informed the court that the ED was probing his family members and relatives in certain cases, but he was neither an accused nor a complaint was registered against him in any one of them.

The court held that a “preventive/preventive LoC” which resulted in the petitioner being detained in the present case, was “clearly unwarranted” as he was not an accused in either the predicate offenses or the two cases initiated by the ED.

The court held that the petitioner was definitely a minor at the time of the transaction, which resulted in the alleged offences.

“From clause (h) of para 8 of the O.M. dated 27 October 2010, it is clear that unless a citizen is suspected of having joined the Commission or is facing investigation or trial on charges of offenses , which are cognizable. Indian Penal Code or other law, the citizen may neither be detained, arrested, or prevented from leaving the country and the parent agency may only seek notice of his arrival and/or departure.

“The authorities at the airport/or at the airport/or any other port of departure or arrival in the LOC of further notice shall not detain or detain a person on the pretext that the notice of his arrival or departure should be given to the originating agency which shall act indirectly as a deterrent.” /Preventive LoC,” the court said.

The court observed that the LOC taken into custody after the filing of the petition was converted into a LOC and since the ED has already taken corrective action, no further directions are required.

“It is needless to note that under the guise of LoC, the petitioner will not be detained or detained at the airport or any other port on the pretext that the parent agency has to be informed first,” the court said.

The court disposed of the writ petition “with the hope and expectation that the authorities would abide by the conditions laid down in the OM dated 27 October 2010”.

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