Greenpeace Activist Priya Pillai files writ petition in Delhi High Court

Feature story - January 27, 2015
Greenpeace activist, Priya Pillai has filed a writ petition on 27 January 2015, in the Delhi High Court challenging her illegal and arbitrary offloading at the Delhi International Airport on 11 January.

Priya was on her way to the UK to address British parliamentarians on the human rights and forest rights violations by a subsidiary of a British registered company – Essar Energy – in the forests of Mahan in Madhya Pradesh.

The illegal offloading by overzealous government agencies is not just a violation of her basic right to personal liberty and freedom of speech but is also deliberate attempt to malign her reputation. Pillai would also be challenging the alleged lookout circular issued in her name. The circular has no legal basis as Pillai neither has any conviction against her, nor has she ever evaded arrest or trial in any case.

“Priya's offloading damages the very fabric of democracy. The govt cannot afford to have this kind of highhanded attitude towards its civil society. They should work together with India’s robust civil society, rather than feel threatened by it,” says Samit Aich, Executive Director, Greenpeace India.

Pillai’s offloading is a not an isolated case. In the past one year, several Greenpeace employees have been harassed by government authorities. While there have been midnight arrests of peaceful forest rights activists in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, many Greenpeace UK employees have been questioned at the Indian airports. One such employee, Ben Hargreaves was deported back to the UK without being given any reason, even though he had a valid visa.

In June, last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs had arbitrarily blocked Greenpeace India’s foreign funds, which the NGO had received from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation. Greenpeace India challenged the government’s action in the Delhi High Court and emerged victorious. Last week on January 20, the Delhi High Court directed the MHA to transfer the blocked the funds to Greenpeace India’s account calling the ministry’s action, arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.     

Greenpeace India and other members of civil society stand by Pillai and support her decision and urge that the lookout circular be quashed and the endorsement ‘offload’ on her passport be expunged.

Tell the government to stop the clamdown on Greenpeace India