Exactly two months after Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was stopped from boarding a flight to London to speak to British MPs, the Delhi High Court has asked the government to quash and set aside the lookout circular against her.
The court has also directed the government to expunge the passport entry where it has been stamped as "offload".
In its 39-page order, the court observes that criticism by an individual may not be palatable, even so it cannot be muzzled. "Why must the state interfere with the freedom of an individual, as long as the individual operates within the ambit of laws framed by the legislature?" says the order adding, "the state may not accept the views of civil rights activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent."
"I'm feeling very happy because this reposes our faith in the Indian judiciary. Big win for people who dare to have a different dream of development which may not coincide with the dream of the government... Big vindication of our work," Ms Pillai said after the court order.
The government too said that it will honour the court's order. "The fundamental rights are supreme and we will honour the order. We understand people can have differing views but India's image should not be dented. There should not be too many divergent view should be aired abroad," Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, told NDTV.
Ms Pillai said her offloading was "illegal and arbitrary" and she had a valid business visa for six months to visit London where she was scheduled to address British parliamentarians on January 14.
Her name will now also be removed from any government database that prevents her from travelling abroad.