The Union government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that a lookout circular issued against Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai would be withdrawn if she gave an undertaking not to make submissions about rights violations in India before a British Parliamentary Committee.
During a high-voltage hearing on a writ petition moved by Ms. Pillai challenging the decision to offload her from a flight to London at the airport here recently, Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain said the activist’s testimony before the British parliamentarians would be “prejudicial to India’s interest.”
Mr. Jain said the circular restricting Ms. Pillai’s travel to Britain was not aimed at limiting all of her freedom, but was focussed only on her “proposed activity of deposition before a foreign Parliament.” He contended that the country would be exposed to a potential sanction regime if such depositions led to the release of “biased annual reports” of parliaments of European countries and the U.S. on the rights violations scenario.
Greenpeace India and Ms. Pillai have been supporting the tribal villages in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh which are opposed to the Mahan coalmine, allocated jointly to London-registered Essar and Indian firm Hindalco before its de-allocation by the Supreme Court.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher observed that the difference of opinion should not lead to curtailment of a person’s movement.
Indira Jaising, senior counsel appearing for Ms. Pillai, sought quashing of the lookout circular.