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SC restrains Italian ambassador from leaving India over marines row

CNN-IBN
Mar 14, 2013 at 04:18pm IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini restraining him from leaving India over Italy's decision of not sending back its marines charged with the murder of two Kerala fishermen. The court has given time till March 18 to the ambassador to respond to the notice and could lead to a major diplomatic row between India and Italy.

The Supreme Court's notice to Mancini came after Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy filed a plea seeking action against the Italian ambassador for contempt of court as Mancini had assured the apex court that the two marines would return to India after casting their votes. The court asked Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati to reply on Swamy's plea, following which the notice was issued to Mancini.

The court has sought an explanation from the ambassador on Italian government's decision of going back on its assurance to send back the marines to face trial in India. However, it is not essential for Mancini to appear before court personally.

The next date of hearing in the case against the Italian ambassador is March 19. But what may be pointed out is that the Supreme Court's deadline to the Italian marines to return is March 22 and any action against the ambassador can be taken only after they fail to return by that date.

The Supreme Court had given the Italians marines permission to stay out of the country only till March 22. The two marines are facing trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, mistaking them for pirates.

However, Mancini can also chose to ignore the Supreme Court notice as according Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the ambassador of a country enjoys diplomatic immunity. But there is a contradictory view in the legal fraternity too with some lawyers pointing out that since Mancini has voluntarily subjected himself to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, he cannot now claim diplomatic immunity.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, Article 29:

The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

Vienna Convention by Nelson Brock

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