Biswas does not enjoy diplomatic immunity: USBiswa

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 22:46

New York: A US official has said that
Krittika Biswas, daughter of an Indian diplomat here does not
enjoy diplomatic immunity from any criminal prosecution, even
as he expressed "regret" over her arrest.

In an August 19 letter to Biswas`s lawyer Ravi Batra,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s Legal Advisor, Harold
Hongju Koh said he has "closely reviewed" the circumstances of
the case.

"I am confident that Biswas, as the daughter of a
consular officer, does not enjoy immunity from arrest or
criminal prosecution under the Vienna Convention on Consular
Relations," he said.

In the letter, Koh conveyed to Biswas and her family his
"regret about the unfortunate incident" in February when
Biswas was taken into custody. Koh`s letter was in response to
a communication sent by Batra to Clinton in June.

Koh writes in the letter that the Vienna convention
provides "limited immunity" from arrest for consular officers.

However Biswas is not a consular officer but a dependent
of such an officer, he said. Krittika is the daughter of
Indian consular officer in New York, Debashish Biswas.

Biswas, 19, was arrested in February this year for
sending obscene mails to her teacher. She claimed that she was
ill-treated in prison and was forced to go to the toilet in
front of other prisoners.

As a member of the family of a consular officer, Biswas
enjoys certain "specific privileges" like exemption from
registration of aliens and residence permits, social security
payments, dues and taxes.

However immunity from arrest in certain circumstances is
enjoyed only by consular officers and not by their family
members.

According to a Department of State publication, "the
family members of consular officers enjoy no personal
inviolability and no jurisdictional immunity of any kind."

Batra said Koh`s reply "relies upon wrong facts" and he
would be formally responding and requesting a "re-examination"
of the matter.

"We had hoped for Secretary Clinton to invite us for a
face to face meeting, to express her support for Krittika, as
well as to get a new legal opinion that gives a robust
interpretation to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
rather than one that constructs its demise," Batra said in a
statement.

"If a change does not occur in the interpretation of the
Department of State of the VCCR, Krittika Biswas will be
forced to file her lawsuit in federal district court in New
York," he added.

At the time of the arrest, Batra had said that neither
the father nor the Consulate General of India, Prabhu Dayal,
was informed of the arrest.

Batra said Biswas has diplomatic immunity and she should
not have been arrested.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 22:46

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