The Madras High Court on Tuesday declined to direct the External Affairs Ministry to consider a representation that India should abstain from participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held at Colombo in November.

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, passed the order on a public interest litigation petition.

Saraswathy Govindaraj, a retired Head of the Department of the Social Sciences, Queen Mary’s College here, submitted that she sent a representation dated September 10 requesting the Centre not to take part in the CHOGM. The petitioner said the Sri Lankan Government had grossly violated the human rights of innocent Tamils on the island in the war against the LTTE in 2009. During such operations, several civilians were killed, tortured and maimed. It also amounted to genocide under the international law and the people of India were committed to upholding human rights.

In the order, the court, citing a Supreme Court judgment, said a mandamus cannot be issued directing an authority to do or refrain from doing a particular thing unless it had a statutory obligation to do so or refrain from doing such a thing.

The petitioner had elaborately dealt with the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils and made a plea that if India participated in CHOGM, it would definitely give a wrong signal that it was actively aiding human rights violations. The Supreme Court had also observed that the view that the judiciary could run the government and solve all the problems of the people was not only unconstitutional but also created a false impression that judiciary was the panacea for all ills in society.

Also, it should be shown that the authority had a legal duty to perform certain functions or should not do certain things and the aggrieved party had a legal right to enforce its performance. It had been further held that sympathy or sentiment by itself could not be a ground for passing an order in the absence of any legal duty on the part of the authority concerned to perform certain functions.

In the representation, the petitioner had made a fervent plea about the sufferings of the island Tamils and the court did not underestimate the contents, the Bench said. The petition was not maintainable, the Bench said and dismissed it at the admission stage itself.

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