Chief Justice of India questions Italian Ambassador's diplomatic immunity

Tue 19 Mar 2013

Even as Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini claimed complete immunity under the Vienna Convention, the Supreme Court on Monday extended until further orders its direction restraining him from leaving the country.

A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Ms. Ranjana Desai made it clear to the envoy that a person who came to the court as a petitioner could not claim any immunity.

When the Chief Justice asked senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Ambassador whether the two marines would return before the scheduled expiry date of March 22, counsel said: “the Ambassador has no further instructions other than the one given by his government. There is complete immunity under the Vienna Convention and we can place on record all the documents.”

Italy had invoked diplomatic immunity for its Ambassador in a note verbale sent to India on March 15. Rome drew New Delhi’s attention to two provisions in the Vienna Convention on dealing with immunity. It pointed out that Article 29 states that

The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

Article 31 says,

A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in some cases.

However, The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it was bound by the directions of the Supreme Court in this matter.  MEA said India will take further steps after it conducts an internal review on bilateral ties.

[sources:[1], [2]]

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