Is India doing enough to safeguard diplomatic immunity?

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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Reader's comments(12)
1: I really feel sad about what happened to Krittika and at the same time feeling angry about indifferent and cowardice attitude of Indian government. The foreign policy of UPA is worst of all time in Independent India.
Posted by:Dr Raman - 31 May, 2011
2: ex-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is caught after having sex with a hooker in DC. Now, he is free and is on TV. An Innocent teenage girl is kept in jail. on what? sending indecent emails. Most US teenagers engage in group sex and orgies. Let all Indians unite and show a diamond-hard and knife-edge ruthless attitude to cut any evil who treat Indians badly.
Posted by:SilRouteTrader - 30 May, 2011
3: I would like to say whatever happened with Kritika that behavior wasn't acceptable at all, doesn't matter in America, India or anywhere in this world. first of all she is female, school student who come from very respective group of people as diplomat to arrest some one with out any definite evidence it's highly unprofessional and shows unethical move towards to society, which is perrty much insult of any democratic institution and country.
Moreover I would also point on our diplomatic failor and lack of confidence in other developed countries, as we can notice in past months not only diplomats family even deplopmate also experienced rude behavior at air port and law breaking activities such move had not to be expected from a country like USA, but unfortunately it happened.
my concern is that why only Indians officials getting target again n again, might be there is something that we are not considering perhaps our diplomats are not well trained or not able to create confident impression there.
if I am wrong then why they didn't care when NYPD knows all ready we are going to arrest a daughter of diplomat, why they didn't care after she had been told to police I am holding a diplomat passport if it was ignorance then why she had been treated like criminal in lock-up and if they know she did mistake then they didn't call her parents and could arrange something else. why her principal didn't contact her parents or gargion before taking huge disrespective move towards a under age school female kid after all perincipal well awared of her back ground.
why if same incident happened in India with any USA underage student you can imagine the sceene of insident would be totally different and our whole system from school to politicians will be apologizing to them for this and the poicement till now in jail or had been fined very high. so we should see this case different and should grab the roots so such incidents can never accure in future with any indian officials at oversease.
Posted by:Indian - 30 May, 2011
4: Getting traction now
Posted by:Raja - 30 May, 2011
5: As Sisira points out, the LTTE-SL govt conflict is not related to this case. But the fact remains that the Indian government is not sufficiently proactive when Indian nationals face problems. Diplomatic immunity for Indians is not respected (e.g. this case) protocol for senior officials is ignored (treatment given to Dr Kalam at New Delhi airport by US airline officials) visitors to the U.S.can be harassed e.g. Kamal Haasan, even small nations like Malaysia or U.A.E. states can ill-treat Indian nationals and mostly get away with it. The Indian government is mostly slow to react but is also generally indifferent. The fault also lies with the public in India which unlike those of many Islamic nations does not want to get involved. India must seriously attack this problem with more dynamic officials everywhere and needs to unequivocally make it clear to all countries that India will not tolerate mistreatment of its citizens, just like Britain did in the past and the U.S. is doing now. The message should be clear: touch an Indian and you will face the consequences. That is the hallmark of a great country, not one that is afraid to touch even convicted mass murderers like Kassab and others of his ilk.
Posted by:Prakash - 30 May, 2011
I am totally agree with you and it's a fact which we keep ignoring that. probably our diplomat are not sufficient or confident in front of other nations diplomats. or might be we still have slavery cells in our blood so when we see white skin we get scared or lost confident. there must be something we has to understand that.
Indian Replied to: Prakash - 30 May, 2011
My mistake, I meant the comments by SMP, not Sisira.
Prakash Replied to: Prakash - 30 May, 2011
8: India fails in diplomatic engagements in that it does not approach problems with a plan. This certainly called for the intervention of the diplomatic community. The problem should have been taken up at a much higher level. A stinker should have been made out of it so that it would never be repeated again. A curt letter from EA ministry would also help. Americans are in general polite, but the pig amongst them do not understand good language or common sense. You have to speak to them in language they can understand.
Posted by:SMP - 30 May, 2011
9: India is a soft nation. All our diplomats working in all embassies worldwide do absolutely nothing to safeguard the interest of the Indian nationals. For this mess we Indian are ourselves responsible. It is quite obvious when Indian embassy is not treating, helping and honoring it's nationals so are the other countries treating them the same way.
Posted by:Rajiv - 30 May, 2011
You are correct but not 100%. India is soft when confronted with a powerful nation like the US. But Indian diplomats will spare no mercy when they are confronted with smaller countries.
Take the case of LTTE and Prabakaran. In or around 1984 SL government was about to crush LTTE in Vadamarchchi operation at a cost of a few hundred lives but then High Commissioner Mr Dixit intervened and threatened SL with war went on with infamous dhal drop and SL government had to yield in.
LTTE later went onto kill Shri Rajeev Gandhi and SL government later had to crush the LTTE terrorists at a cost of over a few hundred thousand lives and billions of $ damage to the country. If anyone has any doubt please read the biography by Mr Dixit.
Sisira Replied to: Rajiv - 30 May, 2011
one incident does not define the entire Indian engagement in SL. There were many problems for which SL and India are equally culpable. Both parties failed to approach the LTTE problem in a planned manner and that bit back at both at later stages. The fact that SL acknowledges its share of mistakes is clearly evident from the fact that it approached the GOI for help later on several times.
SMP Replied to: Sisira - 30 May, 2011
we all know wary well that indian Politician doesn't do anything,they are good for only one thing ............(all knows),otherwise this is not happend first time with indian students.
devyendu Replied to: SMP - 31 May, 2011