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What is LOC?

Published: 27th May, 2022


The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently quashing a Look Out Circular (LOC) against the petitioner and passed instructions to the respondents including the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).


What was the order of Punjab and Haryana High Court with respect to Look Out Circular?

  • The court asked the affected persons to be served with a copy of the LOC and statement of reasons for issuing the LOC “as soon as possible” and provide a “post-decisional opportunity”.
  • The court also directed the MHA to include these directions in the “Official Memorandum”or the guidelines that govern the opening of LOCs.

What is LOC?

  • Lookout Notices are also known as Lookout Circulars (LOC), which are opened to trace absconding criminals. Also, to effectively prevent and monitor the entry and exit of individuals who may be required by law enforcement authorities.
  • Bureau of Immigration (BOI) under the MHA is only the executing agency.
  • BOI generate LOCs based on requests by different agencies.

What are the basic guidelines regarding the issuance of LOC?

  • The request to issue LOC must be issued with the approval of an officer, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India/Joint Secretary in the State Government/Superintendent of Police concerned at the district level.
  • Lookout Notice for all immigration check posts against any Indian person can be issued only in the format prepared by the Home Ministry.
  • The notice issuing agency must give full identification details of the accused person in an already prescribed format. LOC will not be issued for less than three identity parameters other than the name of the accused.
  • Generally Lookout Notice is valid for one year from the date of issue.
  • However, if the originating agency wants to increase the period of this notice, it may do so before the completion of one year.
  • Since 2011 arule made that if no request is made for the extension of the LOC within the stipulated period of one year, the concerned Immigration officer is authorised to suspend the LOC.
  • According to a 2010 official memorandum of the Ministry, details such as First Information Report (FIR) number, court case number are to be mandatorily provided with name, passport number and other details.

How can Modification of LOCs happen?

  • The LOCs can be modified; deleted or withdrawn only at the request of the originator. The legal liability of the action taken by immigration authorities in pursuance of LOC rests with the originating agency.

What are remedial measures for individuals against LOCs?

  • The MHA has asserted that “LOCs cannot be shown to the subject” at the time of detention nor can any prior intimation be provided. Further, no accused or subject of LOC can be provided with any opportunity of hearing before the issuance of the LOC since it defeats the purpose of LOC.

Q1. What is a look out circular and who can issue it? What are the prerequisitesfor issuing a look out circular?

Q1. The issuance of look out circular remains highly discretionary, and the exercise of power under it remains questionable. Explain.


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