Madras high court rules: Can’t ask Centre to stay off Commonwealth meet.

Madras HC    Sympathy and sentiment cannot be a ground to pass judicial orders, and the court was not inclined to interfere with the foreign policy of India. Saying that, the Madras high court on Tuesday, dismissed a PIL against India’s participation at the upcoming Commonwealth heads of governments meeting in Sri Lanka.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice RK Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan said: “It touches upon the foreign policy of the government of India, which depends upon many factors governing the welfare and other factors. This court does not have expertise to analyze the same.”

Dismissing the PIL filed by Saraswathi Govindaraj, the judges cited Supreme Court rulings to hold that sympathy or sentiment by itself cannot be a ground for passing an order in the absence of any legal duty on the party on the part of the authority concerned to perform certain functions.

In her petition, Saraswathi said Tamils in Sri Lanka were subjected to various forms of harassment, leading to torture and disappearance, and added that India’s participation in CHOGM would give a wrong signal/impression that India was actively aiding and abetting human rights violations and abuses.

While taking note of the serious issues raised by the petitioner, the judges said they could not issue any directions in the absence of legal duty cast upon the authority concerned. It said: “The petitioner made a fervent plea about the sufferings of people of Tamil origin in Sri Lanka and this court does not underestimate the contents of the representation. At the same time, in the absence of any statutory/legal right to compel the MEA to perform the legal duty/obligation, a writ of mandamus cannot be issued directing the MEA to consider the representation and dispose it of within a stipulated time frame.” (The Times of India)

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