Is India doing enough to safeguard diplomatic immunity?

By siliconindia   |   Monday, 30 May 2011, 10:25 Hrs   |    12 Comments
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Is India doing enough to safeguard diplomatic immunity?
Bangalore: The whole euphoria in and around the daughter of an Indian diplomat filing a suit against New York City government alleging that she was wrongly arrested for sending obscene emails to her teachers has raised a lot of questions, after a U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, was quoted by NDTV as saying that the immunity does not extend to family members of diplomats. Krittika Biswas is the daughter of Debashish Biswas, the vice consul (administration) at the Indian Consulate General. She sued the New York government for $1.5 million for wrongful imprisonment.

The very first controversial question that strikes from this case is if the Indian Diplomats are really entitled to their privileges? Is the Indian government doing enough in safeguarding the immunity of Indian Diplomats? These are the core questions that have shaken the very foundation of Indian Diplomats structure and needs to be addressed by the government.

International treaties like the Vienna Convention have precisely laid down under its articles 36, 40, 41 and 53 that the code of conduct towards foreign nationals who are detained, as well as the privileges accorded to family members of consular officers, have the same diplomatic immunity when it comes to prosecution in a foreign land. It bars them from arrest except in a serious case of felony. But in spite of its clear provision, Toner maintained that according to Vienna Convention diplomatic stipulations do not apply to its family members.

Though the case has witnessed various supports from different groups of the society and government it was not good enough to get the 18 year old justice. Visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has asked the United States to follow all international norms, accepted practices and conventions in resolving the case. Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Meera Shankar, said, "We have, subsequent to her release also, expressed our concerns to the U.S. government about the way in which she was treated. It is a case which obviously concerns all of us."

Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, India's consul general in New York, says he made many ardent calls to the NYPD for her release but NYPD stall him by putting him on a conference call with the State Department. It was only when Biswas' attorney Ravi Batra, a legal luminary in New York, approached the Queens District Attorney Judge Richard Brown, a day after Biswas was arrested, that the case was dismissed.

U.S. which has the highest number of diplomats than any other country in the world should have been the frontrunner in taking a keen interest on proper implementation of Vienna convention.

However still many questions remain unanswered as to why do India have to wait for a lawsuit to come as eye opener? Why did S. M. Krishna and the Indian embassy in Washington, DC, not sort out the issue of privileges accorded to Indian diplomats and their families over the last three months? Krittika is gaining some support for her plight on Facebook. A group called 'Krittika Biswas-Price of Every Tear Will Be Paid' was set up which had registered 86 likes already.

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