Delhi Minister Gopal Rai moves HC against Centre’s denial of permission to travel to NY for Columbia India Energy Dialogue

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai Thursday approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the central government’s order denying him political clearance to travel to New York to attend Columbia India Energy Dialogue.

The Ministry of External Affairs has said in its September 12 letter that it has examined the proposal and declined political clearance as the “visit from Government of NCT of Delhi would not be appropriate as India is being represented at the Columbia-India Energy Dialogue by Shri Suman Kumar Bery, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog (Ministerial-rank)”.

Rai has sought permission to travel to the US city from September 15 to 21 to attend the programme being held on September 18.

Justice Subramonium Prasad listed the plea for hearing on Friday.

Rai, in his petition filed through Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi and advocate Arun Panwar, said his official request to attend the event has been rejected assigning “arbitrary and malafide” reasons.

“The invitation is specific for different persons representing different stakeholders and does not intend to confine delegates at national level only for the formal representation of the country, therefore the reason cited herein above is nothing but a colourable exercise of power and accordingly bad in law,” the petition said.

Rai said he received the invitation on August 13 for attending and speaking at the event. He said is clear from the invitation that it is a dialogue by all the stakeholders, along with “Indian Think Tanks” to address the essential issues of energy consumption expected to grow about 1.5 times in the coming decades.

Therefore, citing the reason that India is represented by a bureaucrat of ministerial level is neither intended nor desired by the Global Energy Policy, the organisation holding the dialogue, he said.

The plea said the Centre has permitted other officers from different states to attend the event, and the reasons given in the order denying permission to Rai are completely contradicted by these actions.

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“It is also not out of place to mention that Arvind Kumar, Special Chief Secretary, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Telangana Government is also a part of the programme and has been selected as a speaker to speak on the issue of balancing energy, security and energy transition priorities in India.

“This is demonstrated by the fact that the impugned order cites reasons that are contradicted by other actions taken by the respondents. This clearly demonstrates that the impugned order is a colourable exercise of power,” the petition said.

It said Delhi, as a major urban city, plays a key role in transition to clean energy and how national policies impact everyday activities of the public.

The petition said the denial letter has been issued in haste, without any application of mind, and in sheer violation of the principles of natural justice.

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