Explained: How Chief Ministers’ foreign trips are cleared, and by whom

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How Chief Ministers’ foreign trips are cleared, and by whom” published in Indian Express on 19th July 2022.

What is the News?

Delhi Chief Minister has questioned why the Centre has delayed the clearance of his trip to Singapore where he has been invited to attend a World Cities Summit. 

What clearance do Chief Ministers require to travel abroad?

The Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs should be kept informed of the proposed foreign visit, either official or private of Chief Ministers and Ministers of State Governments/Union Territories. 

However, prior political clearance and FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) clearance are mandatory.

In the case of Chief Ministers and Ministers of state governments, a copy of the application must also be sent to the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs(DEA).

What is political clearance?

This comes from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). This is required not only for public servants but any government servant for a foreign trip. 

The decision is taken based on multiple factors such as the nature of the event, the level of participation from other countries, the kind of invitation that has been extended and also India’s relations with the host country.

Since 2016, applications can be made for e-political clearance on the portal epolclearance.gov.in.

Are there any other clearances required?

Chief Ministers, ministers of state governments and other state officials also need clearance from the Department of Economic Affairs.

For Union ministers, after getting political clearance from the MEA, additional clearance is needed from the Prime Minister, whether the trip is official or personal.

Lok Sabha MPs need clearance from the Speaker and Rajya Sabha members from the Chairperson (Vice President of India). However, for MPs, it is not obligatory to inform the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha secretariat if the trip is private.

For government employees, all foreign trips, official or personal, need approval.

Do judges need clearance for foreign trips?

For official foreign travel, the proposal by a Supreme Court or High Court judge is sent to the Department of Justice (DoJ) after taking clearance from the Chief Justice of India. 

The DoJ, after taking political clearance from the MEA and in some cases from the Home Ministry (when FCRA is involved) issues approval. 

Note: Judges do not need clearance for personal foreign trips.

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