The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Delhi High Court order that had quashed the Centre's guidelines wanting high court and Supreme Court judges to take permission of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Law and Justice before embarking upon a private visit abroad.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also issued notice on the Centre's appeal challenging the HC verdict. The notice seeks a response from the advocate on whose petition the HC had quashed the guidelines.
In February last year, the Centre had issued guidelines saying that all HC and SC judges must seek government approval before going on private visits abroad, a rule which so far applied only to official visits.
But after it was challenged, the HC struck them down in May this year. The court in its order said the guidelines issued by the government were ‘untenable’ and the result of a 'mindless exercise'. The HC bench of justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Siddhartha Mridul had found some parts of the guidelines "lowering the dignity of constitutional posts held by high court and Supreme Court judges.”
In its appeal before the SC, Centre through additional solicitor general Paras Kuhad said the HC should have appreciated that even "the Union ministers take approval of government when they travel abroad on a personal visit."
It added: "Judges hold constitutional positions, but, they also have consequential obligations placed by the reason of holding the said constitutional position." The Centre said details regarding private visits of judges were also required keeping in view the security considerations.