14 April 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has allowed an IPS officer facing department proceedings to go on a private trip to the US and France to meet his family. The apex court said that right to travel is an essential fundamental right of an individual.
A bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M.R. Shah said: "Right to travel abroad is an important basic human right as it nourishes independent and self-determined creative character of an individual, not only extending his freedom of action, but also extending the scope of his experience. The right also extends to private life."
Satish Chandra Verma, an IPS officer, had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chennai, seeking its permission to travel abroad. However, the tribunal had dismissed his application citing pending department inquiries against Verma.
Verma, who is an Inspector General with the Central Training College, Coimbatore, then moved the high court, which said there was nothing wrong with the denial of permission by the tribunal due to lack of vigilance clearance. Verma then filed a petition in the apex court challenging the high court order.
Verma informed the SC that he was keen to meet his family residing in France and the US. The apex court noted that freedom to meet family and friends and the freedom to attend marriages were genuine human rights.
The SC bench said that Verma has the fundamental right to travel abroad and that right cannot be infringed on the ground that vigilance clearance has not been given.
Verma informed the court that he had earlier flown to the US in 2017 and had returned within the stipulated time period.
The court said: "We are of the opinion that there is no reason for the Government of India to refuse permission to the applicant to travel abroad."
The bench noted that pending department proceedings cannot be a ground to stop Verma from travelling abroad. Observing that Verma had paid leaves to avail, the SC bench permitted him to travel to the US and France between April 24, 2019 and June 1, 2019.
The court also directed Verma to file an undertaking to the Registry stating that he would surely come back by June 1.