Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot on Monday filed a petition in the High Court challenging the provision that requires state government ministers to seek permission from the Centre to travel abroad, PTI reported.

Last month, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had denied permission to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from visiting Singapore.

Kejriwal had been invited to the World Cities Summit 2022 by the High Commissioner of Singapore Simon Wong on June 1. Kejriwal had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give him permission to represent India at the summit.

However, the chief minister could not attend the event as a file related to his participation remained stuck in Saxena’s office.

In the plea that got listed on Monday, Gahlot contended that the provision to seek clearance from the Union Ministry of External Affairs for personal foreign visits violated the right to privacy and dignity of the constitutional office of state ministers, Live Law reported.

Gahlot also requested that Saxena’s advice to Kejriwal against travelling to Singapore be set aside as the proposed visit is beyond the jurisdiction of the lieutenant governor’s office.

“The use of delay on part of the respondents to effectively deny clearances for official foreign visits was itself an arbitrary non-exercise of power and the same must be remedied by appropriate guidelines,” he added in the petition.

The Singapore summit aims to implement sustainable models for urban infrastructure by holding discussions with global leaders and experts in light of the challenges of climate change in public health system, his plea stated, according to Live Law.

According to Gahlot, the invitation extended to Kejriwal was an opportunity for Delhi to “showcase the leaps it had made in urban planning and development in a manner that is sustainable and conducive to high quality of life standards”.

Gahlot’s petition alleged that this was not the first time that the discretion on travel clearances was abused, reported Live Law.

“The CM [chief minister] was previously denied permission to attend the C-40 World Mayors’ Summit in Copenhagen in 2019,” the petition stated. “The petitioner [Gahlot], who holds the portfolio of transport in the council of ministers, had also requested clearance to visit London on the invitation of ‘Transport for London’ but there was not even a response from the concerned authorities in the Central government till the time the request became infructuous.”

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Gahlot, said that “the petitioner is directly impacted by the draconian and invasive regime requiring clearances for even personal visits abroad made by state ministers”.

Justice Varma observed that the petition had sought to eliminate government’s interference in “personal visits abroad”.

“But the visits which are being spoken are difficult to be understood as personal visits,” the judge observed, according to The Indian Express.

To this, Singhvi argued that the petition pertained to both personal and official visits.

“We are challenging all because guidelines have to be laid before you exercise a pocket veto,” he argued. “This amounts to a pocket veto in the sense that by doing nothing you are exercising a veto and by rejecting you are exercising a veto.”

Justice Varma then directed Singhvi to file an additional affidavit mentioning instances of personal visits only.

The court posted the matter for hearing on August 22.