Archive for India
Eight Indian employees at the Italian embassy in Delhi have now sued the Italian government in the Delhi High Court for damages over alleged racial discrimination. Both the government of Italy and the beleaguered ambassador Daniele Mancini have been made parties to the civil suit. Mancini was at the receiving end of the Indian Supreme Court ire recently after failing to ensure the return of two marines wanted in India to face trial for killing two Indian fishermen despite giving a personal undertaking. The top court had in the wake of the incident directed all concerned agencies to prevent him from leaving the country. It had also warned Mancini that he would face court action if the marines failed to return. Hardly has that issue blown over with Italy belatedly agreeing to return the marines that a fresh petition has been filed, opening up yet another legal front against him. The fresh petition was filed by lawyers Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Aman Garg on Saturday on behalf of a few Indian staff alleging discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality.The petition alleges that the embassy violated its contractual obligations and also discriminated against them on the basis of nationality. It also sought court intervention to recover Rs 10 crore by way of dues owed to these employees from the embassy. They are contractual employees at the executive level who claim they were discriminated against as opposed to locally recruited Italians in terms of remuneration being paid for equal work. Indian law bars employers from paying unequal pay for equal work. The local Italian recruits were paid four to eight times higher, they claimed. This had caused them much distress and mental injury, they claimed, urging the court to stop the practice and direct the Italian government to pay them damages.
India would be breaking international law if it stops Italy’s ambassador from leaving the country in a dispute over two Italian marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen, the European Union said. The statement was the bloc’s most forceful intervention yet in the festering dispute over the marines which has soured relations between India and EU member Italy. India’s top court last week temporarily barred the envoy, Daniele Mancini, from leaving after Rome refused to send the marines back to India to face trial following a home visit. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton noted the Indian court’s ruling about the ambassador “with concern”, Ashton’s spokesman said. Ashton regarded the 1961 Vienna Convention, which sets rules for diplomatic relations, as a cornerstone of the international legal order that should be respected at all times, he said in a statement. “Any limitations to the freedom of movement of the ambassador of Italy to India would be contrary to the international obligations established under this convention,” he added. The EU statement echoed comments by Italy’s Foreign Ministry on Monday that the Indian court’s decision violated diplomatic immunity law.
Coming down heavily on Italian Ambassador Daniel Mancini while hearing the case of Italian marines, the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir not only restrained him from leaving the country till further orders, he also added that a person who comes to the court and gives an undertaking has no immunity. The Supreme Court also said that that it had lost all trust in the Italian ambassador while adjourning the matter till April 2. However, technically Mancini is not under detention and he is free to go any where in India, but if he wants to leave the country he will have to take the Supreme Court’s permission. Mancini, who enjoys diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, is likely to claim before the Supreme Court that he cannot be held accountable for the two marines not coming back. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, Mancini cannot be pulled up by an Indian court, neither can he be detained or not allowed to leave the country. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Daniel Mancini cannot be arrested.
Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve, who quit as Italian government’s counsel after it refused to send back two marines accused of killing fishermen, feels the Italian Ambassador breached a solemn undertaking given to Supreme Court which can take action against the envoy including sending him to jail. Asked whether Italian Ambassador Daniel Mancini breached the solemn undertaking on ensuring return of the two marines to face trial in India and if he is in contempt of the court, Salve said, “Absolutely”. On if he felt that the Court will take action against him, Salve said, “…The question is what…we have to wait and see.” To a question whether the Italian Ambassador could end up in jail, Salve told Karan Thapar in Devil’s Advocate programme on CNN-IBN, “Theoretically, yes”. About its practical likelihood, he said, “Depends on how they want to deal with him. But they can if they want to send him to jail.” “Insulted” and “shocked” by Italy’s stand on the issue, Salve had quit as counsel for the Italian government. Unhappy over the Italian government’s refusal to send back the marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen, the Supreme Court has restrained Italian Ambassador from leaving India without its permission.
Italy warned its citizens to exercise caution when travelling in India following its decision not to send back to trial two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen while on anti-piracy duty. The warning posted on the Foreign Ministry website advised Italians to “maintain an alert and cautious attitude and to stay away from any public meetings”, particularly in the southern state of Kerala, one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. Italy advised the Indian government last week the two marines would not return to India from a home visit, drawing an angry response from New Delhi which has barred the Italian ambassador from leaving the country. The marines, who were part of a security detail protecting the tanker Enrica Lexi, are accused of shooting two Indian fishermen, apparently after mistaking them for pirates off the coast of Kerala in February last year. The marines, who had been detained in India to face trial, were granted leave to return home last month to vote in Italy’s general election. They had previously been granted home leave for Christmas, after which they had returned to India. Italy says India has no right to try the marines, saying that the incident took place in international waters.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) nabbed a senior diplomat from the UAE for allegedly smuggling 37 kg gold jewellery, estimated to be worth about $2m, at the IGI Airport in New Delhi. The counselor-level officer was reportedly travelling with an Indian passenger on a Singapore Airlines flight SQ 406. The flight, which originated from Singapore, had stopovers in Dubai and Mumbai before landing in Delhi. After he was nabbed at the Delhi airport, the accused reportedly invoked his diplomatic immunity and refused to submit his baggage for checking. The DRI then issued search orders, after which his baggage was searched and the gold seized. The diplomat has been detained in an isolated cell within the airport. According to sources in the External Affairs ministry, the Indian government has decided to deport him. The diplomat is alleged to have smuggled 20 kg gold jewellery last month also. A duty of 6 per cent is levied on import of gold.
Nepal Federal People’s Republican Front (NFPRF) and Federal Republican National Front-Nepal (FNRF-N) have demanded that the government should immediately close the ´illegally´ opened field office the Indian Embassy in Biratnagar. In the joint statement, the NFPRF and FRNF-N have said their attention was drawn over media reports that an ´illegal´ and ´unauthorized´ office of Indian government was operating in Biratnagar. “We, therefore, strongly demand with the government to immediately close the unauthorized and illegal foreign office,” said the statement. The demand by the two political alliances comes amid dilly-dallying of the Indian embassy in closing the ´field office´ even after the government wrote twice to the Indian embassy to this effect. The office was opened in the aftermath of the massive Koshi flooding in 2008 to facilitate vehicular movement through Indian territories when a section of road on the Nepal side was disrupted by the flood. As the Indian embassy did not respond to its previous letter sent in January, 2011 to close the office as the office no longer had relevance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) a few weeks ago had written again to Indian embassy to close the office with immediate effect.
A Russian embassy official has been robbed of her gold chain by two bikers in front of her office in Chanakyapuri. Svetlana Shelukhina, who was attacked outside the Alexander Dubeck Marg office on Wednesday morning, told police that the two men waylaid her seconds before she was to enter the building. “Before Shelukhina could understand anything, she was pulled by the pillion-rider. She was dragged for few seconds and then they snatched her chain,” a police source said. The embassy guards came to her rescue but the bikers had zoomed off by then. Police were informed about the incident around 12pm. A police officer said they were examining the CCTV footage of the embassy to get clues about the bikers. Many such attacks on foreigners have been reported from central Delhi in the recent months. Bikers had snatched belongings of a South African family as they were walking in the high-security Barakhambaha area. Before that, Adilia Martins Afonso from Portugal was robbed at a church in Mandir Marg. A day before that, a French embassy staffer, Tozzi, was targeted near the Italian embassy in Chanakyapuri.
The Embassy of India chided secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel late Monday for suggesting in a previously unreleased 2011 speech that India has “for many years” sponsored terrorist activities against Pakistan in Afghanistan. “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan” in Afghanistan, Hagel said during a 2011 address on Afghanistan at Oklahoma’s Cameron University, according to video of the speech obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. A spokesperson for the Embassy of India told the Free Beacon that Hagel’s remarks are not grounded in “reality.” “Such comments attributed to Sen. Hagel, who has been a long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-U.S. relations, are contrary to the reality of India’s unbounded dedication to the welfare of the Afghan people,” the spokesperson said to the Free Beacon in an email. Hagel’s comments also appear to run counter to the official U.S. policy regarding India and Afghanistan, the spokesperson said. Hagel also stated in his 2011 remarks that India intentionally has fueled tensions with Pakistan.
The Maldivian government denied any deal to allow former president Mohamed Nasheed to end his refuge at the Indian embassy in the capital and resume election campaigning without fear of arrest. Presidential spokesman Abbas Riaz said Nasheed walked out of the embassy on Saturday afternoon of his own will and there was no agreement with an Indian mediator who rushed to the Maldives last week to resolve a tense standoff. “There is no deal, absolutely no deal with the Indians or anyone else,” Riaz said, in the government’s first reaction to Nasheed leaving the embassy to resume his political work. Nasheed, 45, sought refuge at the embassy on Feb.13, straining ties between regional power India and its small neighbour Maldives, after an arrest warrant was issued following his failure to attend court.