NATIONAL

Court allows European team to see Maoist leader

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has permitted a team of advocates and human rights activists from Europe to interview the Maoist leader from Nepal, Chandra Prakash Gajurel, who is now in jail at the Chennai Central Prison. Justice K.P. Sivasubramaniam, disposing of a writ petition from advocate A. Rahul, however, directed the team members and the advocate to give an undertaking that they would not hold press meets or comment on the foreign policy of the Government of India.

Referring to a Central Government communication to the State Government advising the latter against granting any interview, the Judge said the objection was only with reference to a press statement "which appears to have been issued by the team of advocates commenting on the foreign policy of the Central Government.

"Excepting the said reason, the Centre has not stated any other reason specifically to bar any interview for any special reason," the Judge said, adding that he was inclined to pass an order on the matter on "humanitarian" considerations as well.

He then said the team must be permitted to interview the prisoner on any convenient dates fixed by the jail authorities after receiving an application from Mr. Rahul or the team members. "The delegation is strictly restrained from issuing any public statement or giving any interview to the press regarding the interview.

Though they are free to pursue their legal action for defending the prisoner or for seeking asylum in a lawful manner, the team shall not pass any comments on the foreign policy of the Government of India." Such an undertaking must be filed before the court as well as the Home Secretary.

Senior counsel for the petitioner, K. Chandru, said the Maoist leader was arrested at the Chennai Airport on August 20, 2003 for offences under the Passport Act. Even if convicted, he would receive a maximum sentence of two years.

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