news Sunday, May 17, 2015 - 05:30
    Priya Pillai unwittingly became the saviour of a Chennai woman who found herself in circumstances similar to the Greenpeace activist when the former was not allowed to travel abroad by the Indian government in January.   On her way to London for a presentation before British MPs, Priya Pillai was told that her name was in a database of persons not allowed to leave the country. The Centre had told the Delhi High Court that she had been prevented from leaving the country as speaking about the alleged violation of rights of tribals in Madhya Pradesh before British Parliamentarians would tarnish India's image.    When assistant professor at Stella Mary’s College, Ordetta Hanna Mendoza forwarded an application to the college for permission to travel abroad, the college refused, saying that she was facing an inquiry wherein she was issued a charge sheet for being too strict in evaluating practical examination papers, reported Times of India.    However, referring the Delhi High Court's ruling in Priya Pillai's case that that right to free speech included the right to criticise and dissent, the Madras High Court permitted Mendoza to fly out of the country.    Justice D Hariparanthaman allowed Mendonza to travel, saying “even a criminal has a right to go abroad and, as such, a professor cannot be prevented from travelling abroad citing pending departmental proceedings as a reason, that too during summer vacation. When interim relief was provided to Mendoza to travel in April, the college had sought a vacation of the interim order.    It was then that the judge referred to Maneka Gandhi’s case when she was asked to surrender her passport without reason. Then, citing Pillai’s case, the judge said that the Delhi High Court had deemed the right to travel abroad a funadamental right.   Justice Hariparanthaman said that considering that Mendoza wanted to go to the US for medical treatment, and considering she was not a criminal, he gave he  permission to travel abroad.    
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