The Delhi high court on Wednesday termed as inappropriate the Centre’s decision to prevent Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from leaving India on the ground that “she was going to project the image of Indian government negatively at the international level.”
Justice Rajiv Shakdher remarked that there can be differences of opinion on the development policies of the government but that does not tantamount to being anti-national.
The court also remarked that the Centre was “underestimating the power of the Indian state” when additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain submitted that Pillai’s speech had the potential of being prejudicial to national interest.
The court made the observation while hearing Pillai’s plea challenging the Centre’s move not to allow her to travel to London last month where she was to depose before a UK Parliament’s formal committee on rights violations at the Mahan coal blocks.
During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for Pillai, submitted that the Greenpeace activist has a fundamental right to express her opinion on issues both nationally and internationally.
“The fact that her opinion is not in consonance with that of the government’s does not imply that her views are detrimental to national interest,” Jaisingh said further raising objection to Centre’s affidavit which clubbed Pillai’s activities as anti-national similar to militants, secessionists, and insurgents.
However, the Centre maintained that Pillai’s testimony before the UK Parliament’s formal committee “would have a global cascading effect and serve only foreign policy interest of a foreign nation.”