Look out circular (LOC) is a circular letter used by authorities to check whether a traveling person is wanted by the police. It may be used at immigration checks at international borders (like International airports or sea ports). In India, LOC has a given proforma which have identification parameters of criminals and help police to catch absconding criminals and stopping them from crossing borders.
The Look Out Circulars are opened to trace the absconding criminals and also to prevent and monitor effectively the entry or exit of persons who may be required by law enforcement authorities. The basic substantive guidelines regarding the publication of the LOCs in relation to Indian citizens issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) enunciate the following four cardinal principles:
“1.The request for opening of LOC is required to be made to all immigration Checkposts in the country in the Official Format prescribed by the MHA.
2.The request for opening of LOC must invariably 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.
3.The originating agency must ensure that complete identifying personal particulars of the person, in respect of whom the LOC is to be opened, are clearly mentioned in the prescribed proforma. The LOC will not be opened for less than three identity parameters other than name of the subject.
4.An LOC is valid for a period of one year. However, in case the originating agency wants to extend the validity beyond one year it can ask for the extension before the expiry of the one year period. If no request is made for the extension of the LOC within the stipulated period of one year, the Immigration Officer concerned is authorized to suspend the LOC.”
It is stated that statutory backing for the issuance of LOC can be placed to Passport Act, 1967, sections 10A and 10B. Section 10A gives power to a designated officer to suspend passport or render a travel document invalid for a period of 4 weeks and section 10B provides that every intimation given by the Central Government or the designated officer, to any immigration authority at an airport or any other point of embarkation or immigration, restricting or in any manner prohibiting the departure from India or any holder of the Passport or travel document. The other statutory provision relied upon is Section 41 of Cr. P.C. which requires police to arrest any person without warrants. The LOCs are issued at the behest of different agencies in accordance with Ministry of Home Affairs Circular No. 15022/13/78-F.1 dated 5th September, 1979, either to monitor the arrival/ departure of foreigners and Indians or to restrict arrival/departure of foreigners or Indians.