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Will withdraw LOC against activist if undertaking given, Govt tells HC

india Updated: Feb 19, 2015 00:01 IST

The look out circular(LOC) against Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai will be withdrawn if she gives an undertaking she won't depose before the UK parliamentary committee on alleged violations in the country, the Government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday.

This submission was made by additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain during a high-voltage hearing in the court during which there were sharp exchange of words between him and the activist lawyers appearing for Pillai.

37-year-old Pillai refused to give an undertaking.

"The Government today asked me to give an undertaking in writing that I would not speak about violation and if give such undertaking I would be allowed to leave this country or travel abroad. But I refused to give that undertaking," she said.

Pillai said the reason for refusing to give an undertaking was that "because I refused to take on a gag order only... as a citizen of this country, I have every right to peacefully protest, talk, clearly express opinion within the Constitution..."

Pillai has sought permission to travel to London to make a presentation before British MPs on alleged human rights violation at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh which, she claimed, was the reason for her to be offloaded from the flight at the IGI airport in Delhi on January 11.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Pillai, said there is no authority of law to offload.

During the course of arguments before Justice Rajiv Shakdher, Jain said Pillai's proposed "testimony" before a British parliamentary committee would have been "prejudicial" to India's interests.

The ASG contended that Pillai's meeting with the committee would have had a "global cascading effect" which would create a "false image" of the country's "massive" efforts to protect tribal rights that would only serve the "foreign policy interest of a foreign nation."

Jaising submitted that disallowing Pillai from travelling to London was "completely unlawful and malafide and without any authority of law" and demanded quashing of the LOC against her.

The ASG said the LOC was not issued to limit all of Pillai's freedom but "was focused only on the proposed activity of her deposing before a foreign Parliament".

He further said the government would withdraw the LOC if she gives an undertaking that she would not depose before the UK parliamentary committee on violations in the country.

The ASG said the UK, US and European Parliament bring out "heavily biased" annual reports on rights violations which could leave India "open to a potential sanction regime".

Jaising submitted that Pillai does not have any criminal conviction against her nor has there been any order impounding or revoking her passport by the concerned Passport Authority.

"She is not evading any trial or arrest under any law, for which a lookout circular is to be issued. She is the victim of the system," the counsel said.

She further said Pillai has the right to project her views against the policies of government in democratic country like India. "We have right to hold that view and propagate the same."