A division bench in the Madras High Court bench in Madurai on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation filed seeking the declaration of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India as a persona non grata (an unwelcome person) as per Article 9 of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, 1961, on the grounds that the petition is not maintainable.

In their order, Justices M. Jaichandren and S. Vaidyanathan observed, “Directions relating to foreign policies and with regard to diplomatic relationships involving foreign countries cannot be issued by this court. It is for the Union of India to consider and to decide such issues as policy decisions.”

Originally, L. Lena Kumar, a social activist from Tirunelveli district, had moved the court claiming that the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam had issued ‘seditious, inflammatory and provocative statements’ which affected the integrity, sovereignty and secular nature of India.

According to the petitioner, Mr. Kariyawasam issued a statement on March 19, 2013, that the Sinhalese were descendants of Odiyas and Bengalis and, therefore, they deserve Indian support. The statement, reported in the media with an intention to ‘divide and bring fraction in India on the lines of race, ethnicity and region,’ angered the Tamils whose sentiments were hurt in view of the alleged mass killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka during the war, the petitioner had claimed.

The judges ruled that the Union of India cannot be directed by the court to make certain decisions relating to foreign policies of India.

“The issues raised (in the petition) are dealing with the foreign policies of India, which would depend upon various factors governing the welfare of the people of the countries involved, the security of the nation and the other issues relating to international relations amongst the Comity of Nations. Such issues are left to be decided by the Government of India as and when it finds it fit to do so,” the judges noted and dismissed the petition.

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