Happy New Year!

Posted on

by Basil Ajith

Happy New Year folks!

I know. I am late in wishing you. Forget me, look who else got her New Year wishing muddy.

US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, had a lot on her mind concerning the Devyani issue and was careful in breathing out a New Year wish to all Indians expressing her regrets regarding the circumstances of the Indian consul’s arrest.

She did not express concern over the arrest but merely regretted the circumstances of her arrest.

This leaves us to question, what exactly is the issue all about?

Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India was charged with visa fraud and for providing false statements to bring her maid from India to the US. She was arrested on 12th of December, 2013 and subjected to “strip search.”

Eh? What about diplomatic immunity? Can a diplomat be arrested? Does US have the right to do prosecute a diplomat? Blah blah blah…..

The major confusion here is whether Devyani is an Indian Diplomat (or Consul. Yeah they are separate offices!) or whether she is a United Nations Diplomat!

Thus, the question of International Law widens whether to apply the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the US-UN Agreement on the UN Headquarters or the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations if she is assumed, by the US, to be an Indian diplomat. Resolving that would resolve the question whether she is to be accorded full or partial immunity.

Whatever the case maybe, scholars and journalists had been having field days for the past few weeks and everyone’s excited to see where US-India relationship goes as India has taken retaliatory steps to impose stricter measures on US diplomats and their families, remove security barricades before the US Embassy in New Delhi and expose any tax violations by US officers.

Criticism has also been attracted from former US diplomats on how both countries have handled the situation poorly.

Also, take a look here and here for an excellent outtake on the legal issues at EJIL: Talk!

And once again I wish you a Happy New Year!

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