Look out Circular is more popular in short form as LOC, The popularity of it comes from Indian Women filing false and frivolous 498a cases on NRI Husbands to extort money and making them fear with LOC. Hence, it is issued on NRI Men or any person who potentially will be travelling abroad by Police officials or Magistrate when wife makes false complaint on just mere allegations on husband or his entire family using Draconian laws or most popularly misused law by women in India – 498A or if there is criminal case pending.
LOC document has standard proforma which gives identification parameters of criminals (i.e. Photo, passport no, name, father name, address, nationality, etc). More importantly it contains instructions what immigration authorities should do when accused has been stopped/ detained at airport(i.e. Typically call person who has requested for it(DCP/SP) or make the arrest).
LOC is only valid only for 1 year from the date of the issue, request has to be made by the Originator to extend the LOC by one more year before the expiry of existing LOC. Otherwise, LOC should be cancelled.
What is LOC
LOC is document issued by the authorities to trace the absconding person who is wanted by law enforcement authorities. Once issued, flag is raised at all immigration entry and exit borders of India including airports and sea ports. Issuing LOC is become like ordering Pizza for Police Officials.
Why LOC is issued
- Not to allow criminals to leave the country
- Not to allow criminals to enter the country with being aware
- To Trace the absconding criminals
- To Harass NRI’s by Police officials (non – technically)
Who can issue LOC
LOC can be initiated in 2 different ways
- Police Officials – Not below the RANK of Deputy Commissioner of Police or equivalent rank in other Departments / Ministries / Law Courts, Generally it will be SP of the district would issue LOC (Called Originator)
- Court – Magistrate where the Criminal case Trial is pending before his court.
How can you find out if there was LOC or not?
LOC is highly confidential document and it is not generally reveled under normal circumstances. They are multiple avenues which one can pursue by different means(ex: RTI). Most of the NRI Men find out LOC has been issued on their name only when they get detained at airport while entering or while flying out. Below are listed possible places where information can be found.
- Police Station where the complaint is lodged will have information about whether LOC has been issued on accused or not.
- District DSP/SP Office
- CB/CID Office
- Immigration Authorities
- FRRO Office (In case of NRI)
- MHA – Who are responsible to issuing LOC upon request from Police Officials or Magistrate.
How to Remove
After finding out LOC is in place on the accused, it becomes responsibility of the accused to get it removed irrespective whether the case for which is was issued in first place is closed or at Trial stage.
They are 2 different methods by which LOC can be cancelled or removed. For each method one will have to spend time, money, energy and resources. Choose the appropriate and applicable one according to your situation. For NRI’s Men, method 2 is most applicable one.
- Police – You will have finish the investigation and then request police officials to remove the LOC, which starts at the Level of IO. If its still not working then make representations to the originator who would be SP or DSP of that district. One has to be persistent and follow up regularly to get updates whether any action has been taken or not. If not, make further representations to make requests.
- Court – Accused can approach court to get it removed as well. They are different levels of court you can approach not necessarily in below order
- Lower Court/ Trial Court – Filing the petition to remove LOC
- Session Court – Filing the petition to remove LOC
- High Court – Filing the petition under Cr.P.C 482 to remove LOC(Common practice by most NRI’s)
- Supreme Court – Filing the petition to remove LOC (I Sincerely hope no one has to take this step)
How to Confirm if it’s removed
Here is the tricky bit, if court removes/ cancels LOC, still in most the cases accused has follow up with police to get LOC removed from the Immigration Database. If not, then accused will have to spend time at airport showing the cancellation orders to immigration authorities and in spite of that, they still have to take permission from the Originator.
To Confirm its been removed or not, one has to follow same procedure they followed to find out whether LOC has been issued or not as mentioned above.
When can you travel with LOC issued.
Following are the scenarios when accused on whom LOC is issued can travel abroad:
- When Accused has taken explicit permissions from the court to travel abroad (Court generally puts restrictions to notify IO after travel itinerary and make reasonable to huge security deposit)
- When Accused gets court orders from the court stating LOC has been removed.
- When Police Officials gives NOC(No Objection Certificate) to travel (This does not happen at all).
For all the above scenarios make sure you have at least one certified copy of all orders and couple of Xerox copies when travelling.
What are the issues?
Below are very few issues one will have when LOC is issued, I Have personally experienced all listed below (Off course I have been back stabbed by my lawyer and my lack my legal knowledge).
- JOB Loss
- Career Loss/ derailment
- Arrested at Airport
- Spending time in Lockup or Jail or Judicial Custody
- Public Humiliation /Embarrassment
- Many more…
For Foreign Nationals
Stay in India – If you have OCI/POI Card they might be taken, one will not be allowed to move out of the country until LOC is removed or permission from the court to go out the country
On Visit Visa – Unfortunately if Visit Visa expires, it wont be extended until LOC has been removed or one gets permission from the court to extend it(One more case). So one will become Illegal person in the country and ironically you cannot be even be detained.
Work in India – If getting Visit Visa itself if up hill task then to get employment visa, you can imagine what all hassles one has to go through. Most the Indian companies still would not like to recruit personal with Criminal background or Case pending (Yes you are accused Criminal, even it was broken marriage with stupid 498a section).
My Story in Short: I am UK National, My wife filled 498a case after more than 6 years she left my house, I came to India and took regular bail by surrendering in the court. My bail did not have any travel restrictions nor was asked to surrender my passport. So ,on 12 September 2014 12:05 am I was returning to UK to report back at work, I was detained at Mumbai Airport by immigration authorities stating LOC is in place on my name. I requested/ pleaded/ begged authorities showing them bail papers which do not have any travel restrictions to let me travel as this will not only make me lose my JOB by destroy my career. Little did I know, I was talking to stone wall. Not only they did not listen instead were very aggressive and used abusive language towards me to show court papers to travel. As I was in Shock state, I just couldn’t respond in any commanding way except repeating my story again and again. As if this was not worse, I called my lawyer to speak to them, he just hung up one me just saying “Who are you?” and did not return my 50 calls afterwards. Reason for his reaction, as I put my foot down not to pay him anymore (he has been paid very handsomely already) until case moves to next stage then I realised its not only women who extort money in India, it is lawyers too. Now knowing there is no one to rescue me, Harassment by authorities has gone to next level.
I was detained, spent time in lookup, court gave judicial custody until PS where the 498a case has filed(700 KM away) officials comes and picks me up. I spent 3 days in the lockup, one day on road to reach the PS, where I was presented to Magistrate, who calmly said, “he is not required here and I will see him in 2 months”. Still not recovered fom the shock of losing the job(off course my office fired me), detained, time in lockup I requested police officials to remove LOC.
IO did say he will remove the LOC and did send the LOC removal request to SP after good 1.5 months. Then I kept on going to SP Office with requisition letters for removal, every time I was promised to be looked into and being spoken positive about removal. I waited for few more months. Just when it was time to extend LOC, I was told LOC will not be removed by SP and same was extended for one more year. Again, little did I realize that SP was just playing game with me to waste my time, and I was waiting in good faith. After this episode, I lost faith in entire police missionary.
I approached HC by filing LOC Removal petition and the case was disposed in 4 weeks to file petition in trial court for removal(one more delay). I approached lower court and finally his Hon ‘ble Magistrate cancelled my LOC in May 2015.
Lesson Learnt: Wait for 1 month with Police officials to remove LOC. If they don’t, then take different approach(If you are not in immediate need to fly). However, for most NRI men or Foreign Nationals who want to return to their motherland best method will be to approach the court and file LOC removal petition stating the reason why it is imminent for them to return immediately.
Well I thought that’s end of the game, lessons have always been learnt hard way in my life and hence this one as well. I was allowed to travel to UK with LOC cancellation papers after been made to wait for 2 hours to get confirmation from SP to travel. However, LOC was still showing up on the immigration systems. So, I start again making requests to SP office to remove LOC. After 3 requests, LOC removal request was sent to CB CID which in turn was sent to Immigration Board for removal from their systems. Entire process took 3.5 months. Not that I was not allowed to travel, that’s how Indian system works. To Issue LOC it takes less than 1 day. However, in my case it took less than 1 week.
The Funniest part was My Legally wedded wife filed Cr.P.C 125 and HMA 9(popularly known as RCR) as soon I was detained at airport.
Originally published at https://498ablog.wordpress.com/look-out-circular-loc/