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Litigation to declare High Commissioner Kariyawasam persona non grata

2013 Nov 21

By M. Vandhana



A public interest litigation has been filed in the Madras High Court, seeking to declare the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India a persona non grata as per Article 9 of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations 1961, for allegedly transgressing his limits as a foreign diplomat and issuing 'provocative' statements.



The petitioner, L. Lena Kumar, a social activist and the proprietor of Yathumahi Publications based in the Tirunelveli District, has alleged in his petition that Sri Lankan High Commissioner, Prasad Kariyawasam, had issued 'seditious, inflammatory and provocative statements' which affected the integrity, sovereignty and secular nature of India.



Kumar had stated in his petition that Kariyawasam had issued a statement on 19 March 2013 claiming that the Sinhalese were descendants of Odiyas and Bengalis and, therefore, they deserve Indian support. The statement, reported in the media, angered the Tamils, whose sentiments were hurt in view of the alleged mass killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka during the war.



The petitioner claimed that the statement was made intending to 'divide and bring fraction in India on the basis of race, ethnicity and region.'



The Sri Lankan High Commissioner was bound by the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, but Kariyawasam had transgressed his limits as a foreign diplomat, Kumar had argued.



"The manner in which the Indian Government dealt with the 'seditious and provocative' statements of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner is highly disturbing. If it is left unchecked, the intervention of foreign diplomats in India's internal affairs may become inevitable," the petitioner contended.



The petitioner claimed that he had submitted a representation to the Indian External Affairs Secretary and the Prime Minister on 25 April this year, to declare Kariyawasam a persona non grata, but he had got no reply. He therefore filed the public interest litigation.




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