In a blow to the state government, the Kerala High Court on Monday quashed the…
New Delhi(PTI): The Delhi High Court on Thurday set aside the look out circular issued against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai who was offloaded from a flight to London two months back, saying her fundamental right to travel cannot be curtailed.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher, while upholding her right to travel abroad, also said Pillai has every right to hold a different opinion on development policies and this cannot be the sole ground to restrict her movement. The court set aside the look out circular (LOC) issued by Intelligence Bureau (IB) and asked the government to remove her name from the database containing names of individuals barred from leaving the country.
It also directed Bureau of Immigration to expunge the endorsements made on the activist’s passport while offloading her from a flight on January 11 while she was going to London to make a presentation before British MPs on alleged human rights violation at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh. The court, however, declined to order inquiry against officials involved in her offloading.
The judge, meanwhile, has not granted any compensation to Pillai saying she can ask for the same before an appropriate bench.
The high court had on February 19, reserved its judgement on Pillai’s plea claiming that her right to freedom of speech and expression was being curtailed by an unlawful order of the executive. Justifying the government’s decision, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain had said that her visit to London was a serious threat to the nation and the speech she was going to make there is against the nation and had “potential for mischief” against India’s economic interests. He had said that the travel tickets financed in her name were from an organisation which is on the watch list of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).”
The ASG had claimed that diplomatic relations were “fluctuating” and existing good relations were no guarantee against “something undesirable” later. The high court had earlier expressed concern over Pillai not being allowed to visit London, saying government has to draw a line between “nationalism and jingoism”.
The court had said the government decision was not appropriate as there are many people, who indulged in various anti-national activities, but were travelling abroad.
37-year-old Pillai, who was stopped from flying to London on the basis of the circular had moved the high court on January 27. Pillai, in her plea, had sought permission to travel to London to make a presentation before British MPs on alleged human rights violation at Mahan, which she claimed was the reason for her to be offloaded from the flight at Delhi’s IGI Airport.
The activist had also demanded a compensation of Rs one crore and had contended that disallowing her from travelling to London was “completely unlawful and malafide and without any authority of law” and that the LOC should be quashed.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Pillai, had said that an enquiry should be ordered into the “illegal, wrongful and malafide conduct” of the officials and sought that the wrongdoers be punished if found guilty.