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Arvind Kejriwal was denied clearance for the foreign visit: What all is required for clearance?

Recently Arvind Kejriwal was denied going abroad. What clearances are required?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was recently denied clearance for an abroad trip. He was supposed to address a conference in Denmark on 11th October. After not being able to get clearance for the trip, Arvind Kejriwal addressed the conference through videoconferencing.

Kejriwal was to lead an eight-member delegation for the summit. He was to speak about the AAP government’s experience in lowering the pollution level in Delhi and present the set of initiatives taken by the AAP dispensation that led to the 25 percent reduction in air pollution.

Why clearance is required?

Public servants require political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs for a foreign trip. The spokesperson for MEA, Raveesh Kumar said amid the Arvind Kejriwal’s controversy that the ministry gets hundreds of clearance request every month from bureaucrats, ministries and secretaries. The decision of clearance is taken on various inputs. The nature of the event, the level of participation from other countries and also the kind of invitation is taken into account while deciding the clearance. Applications for political clearance can be applied online through the government portal of the ministry since 2016.

Chief Minister’s whose clearance was denied?

During the second UPA government when Manmohan Singh was leading the country, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Arjun Munda were denied political clearance from External Affairs Ministry. Tarun Gogoi, then Assam Chief Minister from Congress wanted to visit the US for a ‘high-level meeting’ in New York on April 2, 2012. “Direct correspondence by a diplomatic Mission with a State Government being appropriate”, the ministry suggested. Gogoi wanted to go to Israel for an event on water and environment technology. The note of ministry suggested that the concerned agencies will be tough to put to provide special consideration for Assam, CM, both from the protocol and substantive angles.

The Protocol Discourse

Then, Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa (presently Election Commissioner) wrote to then Cabinet Secretary, Ajit Seth about the “dilatory system”. He said that the “dilatory system” of the External Affairs Ministry clearing all proposals of travelling abroad by officials should be changed. The Cabinet Secretary forwarded the letter to the ministry; then Sujata Singh, Foreign Secretary wrote back on August 13, 2014. The foreign secretary said that it was the Ministry’s prerogative to decide on the desirability, suitability, and level of participation of Indian officials in engagements abroad.

Read more: MissionElection2020: Arvind Kejriwal’s Masterstroke ahead Elections

Other Clearances

Apart from political clearance for public servants, other officers need other additional clearances. State Ministers, Chief Ministers and other state ministers also need clearance from the Department of Economic Affairs apart from the foreign Ministry clearance.  Union ministers have to take additional clearance from Prime Minister, whether the trip is personal or official. Member of Parliament from Lok Sabha need clearance from Speaker, Rajya Sabha Members need clearance from the Vice President of India (Chairperson). Various ministry officers up to the Joint Secretary level, concern ministers give the clearance once they receive political clearance. People who are above the rank of Joint Secretary level, the proposal needs the approval of a screening committee of secretaries. Rules vary upon the duration of the visit, the numbers of members in delegation, the country to be visited. If the foreign trip other than the UN, involves hospitality of organizations, then FCRA clearance is needed from the Home Ministry.

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