The Centre on Wednesday apprised the Delhi High Court that it has granted the political clearance to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and city Education Minister Atishi to travel to the United Kingdom for an official visit next week. Earlier on June 6, the 41-year-old leader approached the high court urging it to direct the central government to make a decision regarding the necessary clearances for her visit.
The counsel for the Centre said the proposal has now been sent to the economic affairs department for further approvals, which would also be processed and the petitioner can apply for requisite visa permits. While Atishi's lawyer said the clearance was given by the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday morning, the counsel for the Centre said it was granted on Tuesday itself.
Atishi is scheduled to visit UK from June 14 to 20
“It was given yesterday. Political clearance was granted. No need for any direction,” the lawyer told Justice Chandra Dhari Singh. The lawyer appearing for the petitioner said she is scheduled to travel to the UK from June 14 to 20.
In her petition, the AAP leader informed that she has been invited in her official capacity by Cambridge University to speak at a conference on 'India at 100:Towards Becoming a Global Leader' to be held on June 15.
Atishi's petition emphasised the importance of the visit for showcasing Delhi's advancements in education, health, and urban development and that the delay in granting clearance for the visit would render its purpose ineffective.
What Atishi's plea contended?
The plea argued that restricting Atishi's right to travel abroad based on discretion impinges on her personal freedom and violates the dignity and independence of a constitutional office. It further claimed that the central government has been causing delays by responding with queries and clarifications after the Lieutenant-Governor forwarded the proposal, hindering the visa application process.
The plea expressed concern over the limited time remaining for completing all necessary formalities and obtaining visa approval. It also contended that requiring constitutional functionaries and ministers in state government to seek the Centre’s "political clearance" for travelling abroad violates the dignity and independence of a constitutional office. The petition also asserted that Atishi's visit to primary schools in the UK is vital for incorporating best practices in primary school education in Delhi and exchanging ideas on urban governance and showcasing Delhi's progress in urban design.
(With inputs from agencies)