Sri Lankan minister cannot be arrested, Indian court told

Sept 20, Chennai: Douglas Devananda, Sri Lankan Minister of Traditional Industries Small Enterprise Development, cannot be arrested in India as he has diplomatic immunity, India’s External Affairs Ministry told the Madras High Court in Chennai on Tuesday.

Devananda, the leader of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), was declared as an absconding accused in connection with a 1986 murder case in Chennai.

The Ministry told the court that if Devananda was arrested while on a state visit, it would affect the relations between the two countries and also India does not have an extradition treaty with Sri Lanka.

Following the Ministry’s submission, the court adjourned the case for four weeks.

A local judge in June 1994 had issued a proclamation warrant against Douglas Devananda, treating him as an ‘absconding accused’ in the case relating to the killing of a city resident in 1986.

During Devananda’s visit to India in June 2010 with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a lawyer for a pro-LTTE group filed a petition seeking his arrest.

Devananda says he was pardoned according to the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987.

The Minister has filed a petition at the Madras High Court to annul the local court proclamation declaring him as an absconding accused.

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