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Devyani row:Should India demand apology from US? By Arti Bali Last Updated : 17 Dec 2013 03:51:58 PM IST Devyani row:Should India demand apology from US?
Taking a tough stand over the arrest of its diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, in America, India has asked US to return all identity cards issued to their consular officers posted in the country, a move which may be a precursor to reviewing immunity and benefits enjoyed by them .
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade ,who was arrested for alleged visa fraud in New York ,was strip-searched in custody and was kept with hard core criminals like drug addicts and sex workers .There are various instances where diplomats were provided diplomatic immunities for murder like offences.
There were reports that she was subjected to DNA swabbing. India has asked the US to return all ID cards issued to their consular officers posted in the country .As the standoff between US and India continued ,the US virtually justified the reported strip search by New York police of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, saying "standard procedures" have been followed during her arrest.
India has pointed to Article 41 (section 3) of VCCR (Personal Inviolability of Consular Officers) which says that proceedings against a consular officer "shall be conducted with the respect due to him by reason of his official position".
Art. 41(1) of the VCCR states, “Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.”
Instances of diplomatic immunities
It may be recalled that on 27 January 2011, in Lahore, Pakistan, an American embassy employee, Raymond Allen Davis, shot and killed two Pakistani civilians. According to Davis, they were about to rob him and he acted in self-defense. Davis claimed to be a consultant at the U.S. consulate in Lahore. He was formally arrested and remanded into custody. Further investigations revealed that he was working with the CIA as a contractor in Pakistan. U.S. State Department declared him a diplomat and repeatedly requested immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
In July 2013, Joshua Walde, an American diplomat in Nairobi, Kenya, crashed into a mini-bus killing a man and seriously injuring eight others. US embassy officials took the diplomat and his family out of Kenya the following day.
39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody last week on a street in New York as she was on her way to drop her children to school and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges.
"Diplomatic Security, which is under the State Department purview, followed standard procedures during her arrest,"State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.
Ms Khobragade's arrest has sparked a diplomatic row between US and India .
Diplomat's father calls arrest unjustifiable
Hitting out at the US government," Devyani's father said "My daughter's arrest was wholly unjustifiable, what crime she has done? She is not a murder, she is not a criminal. So I feel this whole arrest was an alibi for something else.IS it such a serious offence that she was arrested on the road ."
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday refused to meet a visiting US congressional delegationas a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to India's Deputy ConsulGeneral in New York. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had cancelled meetings in Delhi with a visiting US Congressional delegation yesterday .
Khobragade was stripped, searched and subjected to DNA swabbing.
"We are also reiterating, in no uncertain terms, to US embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable," Spokesperson in theMinistry of External Affairs Syed Akabaruddin had said here while reacting to the treatment meted out to Khobragade.
Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has termed the arrest of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in public as an "insult" and said the US's reaction is awaited on the matter.
"Our Diplomatic Security folks followed our standard procedures, which I'm assuming are standard for diplomats because that's who our Diplomatic Security deals with," Harf said.
Harf said under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.
"There's different kinds of immunity.This isn't just in the US; it's all around the world.So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant," she said.
India has reacted sharply to Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public by summoning US Ambassador Nancy
Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.
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