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Bombay HC stays LOC, lets petitioner travel out of country, imposes Rs 50,000 costs for late filing

[Bombay HC] – Stays the LOC and permits the Petitioner to travel out of the country but imposes costs of Rs. 50,000 for filing the application at the eleventh hour.


Introduction

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Sanjay Dangi v. Union of India, (2023) SCC Online Bom 1260 expressed its displeasure that applications for seeking stay/suspension of Look Out Circulars (‘LOCs’) are being filed after the finalization of itineraries and at the very last moment. The Hon’ble Court stated that this practice needs to be discouraged and therefore imposed costs of Rs. 50,000 on the Petitioner while allowing him to travel out of the country.


Facts and Observations of the Court

A LOC was issued against the Petitioner at the behest of the Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI’) and because of the LOC, the Petitioner was stopped at the Mumbai airport on 25.06.2022. On 21.06.2023, the Petitioner moved the Hon’ble Bombay High Court seeking suspension of the LOC to enable him to travel to the USA. The Court was informed that the Petitioner is due to travel on 21.06.2023 itself and hence requested that the application be taken up by the Hon’ble Court out of turn. The advocates for the CBI were not provided with the papers. The Hon’ble Court declined to take up the matter on 21.06.2023.

On the next day, an application was made that the Petitioner wants to travel for a conference in the USA where he is the main person. Considering the urgency, the Hon’ble Court directed the matter to be listed on the supplementary board on 23.06.2023.


On 23.06.2023, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court granted permission to the Petitioner to travel abroad but made the following scathing remarks:

  • The Hon’ble Court deprecated the practice of filing applications for suspension/stay of LOCs at the very last minute and that too after finalization of the itineraries. The Court observed that in these applications, the Courts are being taken for granted and it is being assumed that the applications will be heard out of turn and allowed to enable the petitioners to keep up with their itineraries.

  • The Hon’ble Court observed that such applications should be filed in advance and the Courts should not be pressured into deciding the applications in an urgent matter. The Hon’ble Court further observed that such applications are highly disruptive and cause significant inconvenience to the staff.

  • The Hon’ble Court finally observed that such applications will not be entertained if they are made in this manner in future.

Takeaway

The above decision assumes significant importance for people who have LOCs issued against them and plan to travel abroad for business/medical reasons. Considering the strong observations made by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, it is likely that even in very pressing circumstances, the Courts will not be inclined to take up the applications for suspension of LOCs. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that applications for suspension/stay of LOCs should be made by the accused persons in a timely manner and not assuming that the applications would be allowed.


Authored by Purvi Garg, Associate at Metalegal Advocates. The views are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.


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