Blacklist and Look Out Circular

February 26, 2018
12 months

Why in news?

Jaspal Atwal, an earlier blacklisted Khalistani militant, was invited to a dinner honouring Canadian PM Trudeau.

What is a blacklist?

  • It is a list of persons against whom a “look out circular” (LOC) has been issued.
  • It could contain the names of both Indian citizens and foreigners.
  • The blacklist is maintained by the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • It is sent to all Indian diplomatic missions across the world, as well as to immigration checkposts within the country.
  • The list is reviewed from time to time, with name of individuals being added or deleted.
  • This is done on the recommendations made by central agencies or state police.
  • At present, there are nearly 30,000 individuals, including foreign nationals, in the blacklist database, pruned from 38,000 in 2016.

What is an LOC?

  • A “look out circular” (LOC) is a coercive measure used by the investigating agencies and the courts.
  • It is used to compel the suspects who are awaiting trial to surrender.

What is the procedure?

  • Authorities - The authorities on whose request an LOC can be issued include the:
  1. Ministry of External Affairs
  2. Customs and Income-Tax departments
  3. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
  4. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
  5. regional passport officers
  6. police authorities in various states
  7. International Criminal Police Organisation, commonly known as Interpol. 
  • Procedure - The agencies are supposed to follow a process before requesting an LOC.
  • The investigators must submit a written request to an officer notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The request should provide details regarding the individual’s involvement in a crime.
  • The officer, among others, should not be below the rank of:
  1. deputy secretary to the Government of India
  2. joint secretary in a state government
  3. superintendent of police at the district level or in CBI/NIA
  4. zonal director in NCB
  5. deputy commissioner in DRI
  6. assistant director of Intelligence Bureau or bureau of immigration
  7. deputy secretary in R&AW
  8. assistant director of Enforcement Directorate
  • LOCs can also be issued on the direction of any criminal court in India.
  • In a 2010 Delhi High Court verdict, it was observed that a request for issuance of LOC cannot emanate from a statutory body.
  • Validity - Unless specified, an LOC is valid for one year.
  • However, agencies concerned are allowed to make a request to immigration authorities for the extension of an LOC before its expiry.

What are the cases eligible for LOC?

  • Investigating agencies can approach immigration authorities for issuance of an LOC in certain cases.
  • These include offences recognised by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or other penal provisions.
  • Also, when the accused/suspect is deliberately evading arrest or not appearing for trial in court.
  • The evasion should be in spite of a non-bailable warrant and similar coercive measures.
  • LOC can also be issued when there is a likelihood of the suspect leaving the country to evade trial or arrest.
  • However, in cases where the offence is not recognised by the IPC, LOC cannot be issued to prevent the individual from leaving the country.
  • In such cases, the agencies can only ask to be informed about the arrival or departure of these individuals.

What are the legal remedies?

  • The blacklisted individuals can approach a court or the competent officer, who issued the LOC, for its withdrawal.
  • However, according to legal experts, it is more advisable to cooperate with investigating agencies.
  • Role of a subordinate court - An LOC can be issued on the basis of a non-bailable warrant by a subordinate court.
  • In this case, a cancellation of that warrant by the court will make it invalid.


Source: The Indian Express

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