iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 25, 2013
Launching tough reciprocal action on Tuesday, India downgraded the immunity provided to US diplomats on consular duties in India and withdrew the immunity enjoyed by their family members.

India had decided to take firm reciprocal steps after the arrest and strip search of senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York. To that end, US consular officials and their families had been asked to surrender their ID cards for the review of their immunity and other benefits.

Now, US consular officials in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad are being issued new ID cards specifying the limited immunity, which will not protect them from serious offences. This is in line with the restricted immunity given to India’s consular officials in the US. They are not given immunity in cases of felony.

“All Identity Cards provided to US Consular officials now stand withdrawn,” an official said on condition of anonymity. “New cards, which are exact replicas of cards provided to Indian officials in the US, are being given in lieu of the withdrawn cards. These cards will only be given to the consular officials and will not be given to their family members.”

Not issuing IDs to the families of US officials will also ensure strict reciprocity.

Besides, the US consular staff will now be permitted to import their requirements only for the first six months of office, as is provided in the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations, said an official. Previously, they were allowed to import their requirements over the full period of their tenure.