The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Italian ambassador from leaving India without its permission until further order. A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir told Daniele Mancini’s counsel that it had lost trust in him as the Italian marines were permitted to travel after his assurance that they would return.
Italian envoy Daniele Mancini leaves the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi. AFP
On the issue of Mancini’s diplomatic immunity, the bench told his counsel Mukul Rohatgi, “A person who comes to this court as a petitioner has no immunity. We will see to it in the next hearing.”
“We never expected Italy to behave in this manner. Articles have been written, saying that the court has been naïve in sending the marines back. What do they think about our judicial system? The undertaking was on his behalf. You give an undertaking and then renege like this,” the bench told Rohatgi when he claimed the ambassador’s affidavit was on behalf of the Republic of Italy.
File photo of Daniele Mancini, Italian
Ambassador to India. (AFP Photo)
The court fixed April 2 to hear the matter further as its deadline for the return of Italian marines expires on March 22. Accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala coast, the marines were on February 22 permitted to travel to Italy subsequent to Mancini’s undertaking before the SC. The court told attorney general GE Vahanvati that it was concerned with the compliance of its order. “So far, there has been communication between the two governments. There is still time for the court deadline to end,” it said.
However, the bench took strong exception to the Italian government’s second note verbale sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) a day after the SC issued restriction orders against Mancini on March 14 after the Centre informed it about Italy’s decision not to send the marines back.
Quoting from the Vienna Convention, the second note verbale stated that the privileges and immunities provided reassurance that no “Indian authority shall impose or implement restrictive measures on the personal freedom” of the ambassador. It sought necessary protection for the ambassador’s personal safety.
Vahanvati told the court that it was important to know Mancini’s stand on his movements in India. on this, the bench ordered, “All authorities in India shall take appropriate steps to comply with court orders.” When Rohatgi told the court that the ambassador didn’t intend to travel, the bench retorted, “We don’t want this submission or an undertaking. We don’t believe in him anymore.”
Rohatgi responded saying that the legal position was entirely different from what the court thought.
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