HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

SC takes up Italian marines’ case today

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 18, 2013
First Published: 00:12 IST(18/3/2013) | Last Updated: 10:09 IST(18/3/2013)

With legal opinions far from unanimous, New Delhi is delicately calibrating its response against Italy and its envoy Daniele Mancini and awaits a direction from Supreme Court on Rome refusing to send the marines back to face legal process.

The apex court, where the case comes up on Monday, too is hearing an unprecedented case — involving the diplomatic immunity of Mancini for violating an undertaking that amounted to a sovereign guarantee in the highest court of the land.

The government is poised with a tough situation regarding the status of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. Article 32 (3) of the convention makes it amply clear that if a person with diplomatic immunity initiates a legal proceeding in a host country, he or she can’t claim immunity from the fallout of that legal proceeding.

In this case, the envoy, who is also a petitioner in the court proceeding can’t escape the fallout of a contempt of court consequence.

But it doesn’t just end there. Waiving of diplomatic immunity is required for the execution of a judicial order, like a contempt of court.

However, Mancini’s diplomatic immunity can be waived only by Italy, the sending state. It can also get more complex.

The personal inviolability of the diplomatic agent remains the very basis of diplomatic immunity.

The Italian story
It is learnt that Italians believe that the envoy enjoys immunity and he was following his government’s order.  They also point out there is still issues about the jurisdiction of the shooting case, and presses for United Nations’ law of the sea.

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