Travel Ban on Greenpeace Activist Priya Pillai Ilegal, Rules Delhi High Court

Published: 13th March 2015 05:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2015 05:59 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday set aside the lookout circular issued against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who was offloaded from a  London-bound two months ago, saying her fundamental right to travel cannot be curtailed. And the court while terming the move illegal said the right to criticise cannot be muzzled by the state.

Travel Ban.jpgJustice Rajiv Shakdher, while upholding Pillai’s right to travel abroad, also said that she had every right to hold a different opinion on development policies and this could not be the sole ground to restrict her movement.

It also directed the Bureau of Immigration to expunge the remarks entered in the activist’s passport while offloading her from a flight on January 11 while she was en route to make a presentation before British MPs on the alleged human rights violations at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh.

“The core aspect of democracy is the freedom of an individual to be able to operate freely, within the framework of the laws enacted by Parliament. The individual should be able to order his or her life anyway he or she pleases, as long as it is not violative of the law or constitutes an infraction of any order or direction of a duly constituted court, tribunal or any statutory authority for that matter.”

“There was no basis for the government to issue a lookout circular against her. The decision taken to detain her at the airport on January 11 in my opinion, was illegal being violative of the Pillai’s right under Article 21 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” the presiding judge added.

Reacting to the HC order MoS, Home, Kiren Rijiju said it was not the final order and the government would examine the order and then decide whether or not to go in appeal.

However, Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) sources said the government may not go in for appeal in the case.

It was also revealed that the government wanted to protect the democratic rights of individuals including the right to express their views in the country or abroad provided it did not go against national security.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain had justified the government’s action and said that Pillai’s aborted visit to London was a serious threat to the nation and the speech she was going to make there had “potential for mischief” against India’s economic interests.

He said that the travel tickets financed in her name were from an organisation which was on the MHA watch list.

The ASG had claimed that diplomatic relations were “fluctuating” and existing good relations were no guarantee against “something undesirable” later.

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.

Take her Name Off No-Fly List: HC

The court set aside the lookout circular issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and asked the government to remove her name from the database containing names of individuals barred from leaving the country.


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