LOC Cancellation, Passport & Immigration lawyer in Delhi / India

LOC, Travel Restrictions & its remedies:
A Look-Out Circular (“LOC”) is a coercive measure aimed at making a person surrender to the investigating agency or court of law. The objective of issuance of LOC is to check the arrival/ departure of foreigners and Indians whose arrival/ departure has been banned by the concerned authorities or wanted by investigating officers or Courts of law.

That the Hon’ble Delhi High Court while deciding a writ petition relating to the challenge to an LOC and Red Corner Notice issued by Delhi Police and Interpol in the case titled as Sumer Singh Salkan Vs. Asstt. Director & Ors., W.P. (Crl.) No. 1315/2008, answered four questions raised by the Court on the LOC:-

a) What are the categories of cases in which the investigating agency can seek recourse of Look-out-Circular and under what circumstances?

Ans- Recourse to LOC can be taken by investigating agency in cognizable offences under IPC or other penal laws, where the accused was deliberately evading arrest or not appearing in the trial court despite NBWs and other coercive measures and there was likelihood of the accused leaving the country to evade trial/arrest

b) What procedure is required to be followed by the investigating agency before opening a Look-out-Circular?

Ans- The Investigating Officer shall make a written request for LOC to the officer as notified by the circular of Ministry of Home Affairs, giving details & reasons for seeking LOC. The competent officer alone shall give directions for opening LOC by passing an order in this respect.

c) What is the remedy available to the person against whom such Look-out-Circular has been opened?

Ans- The person against whom LOC is issued must join investigation by appearing before I.O. or should surrender before the court concerned or should satisfy the court that LOC was wrongly issued against him. He may also approach the officer who ordered issuance of LOC & explain that LOC was wrongly issued against him. LOC can be withdrawn by the authority that issued and can also be rescinded by the trial court where case is pending or having jurisdiction over concerned police station on an application by the person concerned.

d) What is the role of the concerned Court when such a case is brought before it and under what circumstances the subordinate courts can intervene?

Ans- LOC is a coercive measure to make a person surrender to the investigating agency or Court of law. The subordinate courts’ jurisdiction in affirming or cancelling LOC is with the jurisdiction of cancellation of NBW (Non-bailable warrants) or affirming NBWs.

The following legal option/remedy is available in law, against the arbitrary issuance of LOC:
  • The aggrieved person can approach the investigation officer, on whose behest LOC has been issued & give a representation for withdrawal of the LOC;
  • The aggrieved person can approach the Court where the trial is pending and file an application for rescinding/ cancelling the LOC;
  • The aggrieved person can approach the High Court under the Writ jurisdiction, if the LOC is issued by bank or any investigating agency or government;
  • The aggrieved person can approach High court under section 482 Cr.P.C if the LOC is issued by trial court in arbitrary manner;
An LOC is a coercive measure to make a person surrender and consequentially interferes with petitioner’s right of personal liberty and free movement. It is to be issued in cases where the accused is deliberately evading summons/arrest or where such person fails to appear in Court despite a Non-Bailable Warrant. In the instant case, there is no contradiction by the respondent to the submission of the petitioner that she has appeared on each and every date before the Investigating Agency when summoned, and hence, there is no cogent reason for presuming that the Petitioner would not appear before the Investigation Agency and hence, no case is made out for issuing the impugned LOC. [in the matter of Rana Ayyub vs. Union of India & Anr., W.P.(CRL) 714/2022, the Delhi High Court observed]

Hon’ble Madras High Court has held that any decision, be it executive or quasi-judicial, is amenable to the power of judicial review of the writ Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and in exercise of power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution, the writ Court can interfere with an LOC. And the Hon’ble Court set aside the LOC issued against the petitioner after holding that the LOC was issued in hot haste and even the conditions precedent for issuance of such LOC did not exist. [In the case of Karti P.Chidambaram vs Bureau Of Immigration, 2018 (3) RCR (Criminal) 874]