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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Worlds apart: Foreign laws govern diplomatic visas

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 30, 2013
First Published: 00:09 IST(30/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:45 IST(30/11/2013)

From gay partners to live-in companions, jargon that is not so common in the Indian context, guide the issuance of diplomatic visas.

A diplomat citing domestic law while raising her objection, that was promptly objected to by her seniors, to a US gay couple on diplomatic assignment to India has turned the spotlight on how such visas are issued.

Diplomatic visas, issued by the external affairs ministry, are based on requests from the country (a note verbale), which sends these officials. And differing national laws or even conventions don’t come in the way when such matters are decided on. For example, it’s usual to see some foreign diplomats with more than one wife, or with gay partners in India —things that are not sanctioned under Indian legal framework.

Same is the case for issuing dependent visa for people on diplomatic assignments. For example, Indian diplomats can take his/her 21-year old daughter as a dependent to the US, while the age for the same under the US law is 18.

External affairs ministry sources said the transfer of Neena Malhotra  from the post of joint secretary visa, is not based on her objection to a US-gay couple getting visa, which anyway didn’t stand the test of precedence.

The office order of external affairs ministry dated November 26, has six officers being transferred including Malhotra.

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