Biswas does not enjoy diplomatic immunity: USBiswa
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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.


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

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