SC stops Italian envoy from leaving country

Marines: Govt reviews entire gamut of ties with Rome,briefs EU

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:March 15, 2013 2:00 am

The Supreme Court Thursday restrained Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India and sought an explanation from his government for breaking its promise to send back two marines to face trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast last year.

The court’s order came as the government said it had begun reviewing the entire gamut of relations with Rome through an inter-ministerial process and also briefed European Union envoy Joao Cravinho about Italy’s U-turn on a sovereign commitment.

The external affairs ministry also called Mancini to hand over the court’s order. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the “entire expanse of our interaction” with Italy was being reviewed and stressed that Italy has to “respect and abide” by its agreements with the Supreme Court.

“As part of our ongoing efforts following what the Prime Minister has said in Parliament yesterday,we have initiated a study of our interaction with Italy. At the end of the internal process,we will take further action that is appropriate,taking into account all aspects of our relationship,” he said.

In the Supreme Court,a bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir pointed out that there were separate undertakings cited by Mancini – one on behalf of his country and another taking “full responsibility” to ensure the return of the marines – and issued notices to the envoy to furnish explanations on the two counts independently.

The bench also asked marines Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone,who were allowed on February 22 to return to Italy for four weeks to vote in general elections,to submit their replies since they had also given their personal undertakings to comply with the conditions set by the apex court.

The bench sought their replies by March 18 while accepting a request for imminent intervention by Attorney General G E Vahanvati,who said: “It was a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land and the government is extremely concerned about it,more so because it is under the orders passed by this court.”

Vahanvati mentioned the matter before the bench,saying developments since the February 22 order needed to be brought to its notice even though the marines’ bail expires on March 22. He read out the court order,juxtaposing it with the unequivocal undertakings by the Italian ambassador and the marines that had prompted the court to grant the bail.

Citing the order,Vahanvati said the ambassador had assured breach of not even a single condition and undertook on behalf of Italy to take “all needed actions in this regard within its constitutional powers.”

He then referred to the March 11-communication wherein the Italian embassy said Italy had requested the Centre to set up a meeting at the diplomatic level to reach an amicable solution as per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“It was further stated that since a controversy between the two states has been established,the two said marines will not return to India on the expiration of the permission granted to them,” Vahanvati said,adding that the government has rejected it since the stand was untenable.

The MEA spokesperson said no aspect of the Vienna Convention,which governs diplomatic relations between countries,was violated by the apex court order restraining Mancini from leaving the country.

“As far as we are concerned the first step in terms of inter-state relations or international public law is that agreements ought to be respected and we expect Italy to respect the agreement that their ambassador voluntarily submitted to the highest court in India. That is the issue at stake,” Akbaruddin said.

“Everything else takes secondary importance because for us agreements need to be respected and abided by and we look forward to Italy as a country with a history to ensure that agreements are abided by. The agreements which they have provided to us through solemn assurance,” he said.

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