Thursday, March 21, 2013

Diplomatic Immunity of the Italian Ambassador

Shreya Rastogi (V Year, NLU Delhi) and I co-authored an article titled 'Diplomatic immunity in peril' that appeared as the lead op-ed in The Hindu yesterday (20th March). We argue that the Supreme Court's order restraining the Italian Ambassador and the 'waiver of immunity' argument in the contempt proceedings being considered are without basis in law. The outrage at Italy's actions are undoubtedly justified but the response to it cannot be to sacrifice the commitments we have made to protect the personal safety of diplomatic agents.

Shifting the focus to the legal proceedings against the Italian Ambassador can also be seen as a convenient way out for the Government. Rather than putting pressure on the Government to take the difficult political and diplomatic decisions to address the marines issue, the focus has been successfully shifted to what the Supreme Court would do. Of course, what cannot be ignored in this entire situation is the controversy surrounding the Government of India's $750 million deal to buy helicopters from the subsidiary of Finmeccanica, Italy's largest industrial group as far as high technology is concerned.

For an opposite view on the immunity of the Italian Ambassador, please read Arghya Sengupta's article 'Lawful responses to unlawful actions' that appeared in The Hindu on 16th March.

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