Government of India cannot raise a dispute with a foreign government qua private claim of its citizens

Delhi High Court: In an appeal to a matter wherein a writ petition was filed seeking mandamus to the Government of India to take appropriate action for realisation of the sum of money deposited by the late husband of the petitioner in his accounts with General Post Office, Shanghai, China, the Division Bench of G. Rohini, C.J. and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, J. held that the Government of India is under no obligation to raise a dispute with a foreign government in relation to the private claim of the petitioner by merely acknowledging the fact of a representation made by the petitioner.

In the instant case, petitioner and her husband, who was serving in the Indian National Army, were deported back to India from China. After the death of the husband in 1979, the petitioner made a representation to the Government of India in 2003 for release of the amounts lying deposited, who in turn forwarded her claim to the Embassy of India at China. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Post Office informed the petitioner that her claim stood abandoned for failing to register it within the assigned time after the issuance of the said policy of the Chinese Government. Being aggrieved by no action being taken by the authorities thereafter, the appellant approached this Court in 2015. Counsel for the appellant submitted that the Government is under an obligation to protect and ensure aid, advise and help to the emigrants under the Emigration Act, 1983 and that it is an established principle of international law that any property, particularly belonging to aliens, cannot be confiscated without just compensation and the fact that they suffered confiscation only because they were in service of the Indian National Army.

The Court said that the the petitioner was unable to provide with any specific obligation under which the Government of India could pursue private claims of the petitioner against a foreign government. The Court dismissed the appeal while stating that the said writ petition suffered from delay, laches, acquiescence and waiver. [Harbhajan Kaur v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5932, decided on 08.11.2016]

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