The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions on March 29th, 2018 issued guidelines regarding the grant of passports to bureaucrats for foreign travels. The guidelines specifically concentrated on the circumstances wherein the passport shall be denied to a government officer against whom there are criminal or corruption charges. The government officers are required to have the vigilance clearance. The new guidelines exempted the denial on urgent situations such as medical emergencies.
As per the new guidelines, the vigilance clearance shall not be approved on the following conditions wherein:
- There are pending criminal or corruption charges
- Investigation is pending
- FIR has been filed after the preliminary fact-finding inquiry
- The officer is under suspicion
- Charge-sheet has been filed by the investigating agency and case is pending
- Sanction for investigation or prosecution has been granted by the competent authority under Prevention of Corruption Act
- On private complaints, the charge sheet has been filed or no contrary direction has been provided by the competent court of law
- Disciplinary proceedings pending against an officer
The guidelines enumerated the conditions under the authority has the right to deny passports, but the guidelines also state that it is to be decided by a competent authority in certain situations. The approval to grant passport can be provided on certain urgent situations like medical emergencies which shall be determined on a case by case basis. As there are situations when heirs or family members are residing abroad and due to urgent medical situations, the officer might be required to travel abroad.
The guidelines shall provide an impetus to the investigation and prosecution process without the fear of the officer trying to evade the process by fleeing in foreign lands. The presence of the officer would make the process smooth and effective. This would lead to achieving the right conclusion. There had been precedents where officials evaded investigation and due process by escaping to a foreign land and these guidelines may put a stop to this escapism.