Disgraced diplomat may face tough time: Lawyers

Anil Verma could face a tough time on his arrival here if his wife decides to move an Indian court against him, legal experts said on Monday.

Updated: Jan 17, 2011, 20:48 PM IST

New Delhi: With the government deciding to recall India`s disgraced chief trade diplomat in Britain Anil Verma over allegations of wife-beating, he could face a tough time on his arrival here if his wife decides to move an Indian court against him, legal experts said on Monday.

Though much depends on the course of action his wife Paromita Verma chooses to take, experts said that Verma may find it difficult to escape departmental proceedings for his alleged misconduct and "causing embarrassment" and hurting the image of the country

The government is reported to have taken a serious view of Verma`s misconduct which has earned a bad name to the country and its diplomatic fraternity.

Paromita accused Verma of beating her and went into a hiding with her five-year-old child, fearing for her safety. After moving out of Verma`s official residence in London, she moved an application seeking permission to stay back in Britain on humanitarian grounds.

Experts said if his wife chooses to move against him in Indian courts then there is no bar as regards the territory on which the offence was committed.

Senior counsel and former additional solicitor general Amarinder Saran told a news agency that "all Indian citizens remain subject to Indian laws even if they have committed an offence abroad".

He said that under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) there was a specific provision that states that an Indian citizen committing offence on foreign soil can still be prosecuted in India in accordance with Indian laws.

He said that Paromita Verma could move against her diplomat husband by filing cases under Section 324 of the IPC in case she received grievous injury due to the alleged beating. The section deals with voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

In case the injury was not grave then the complaint could be filed under Section 323 of the IPC.

He said a complaint under Section 506 of the IPC, dealing with criminal intimidation, could also be registered. Offences under 324 and 506 of IPC are non-bailable.

Senior counsel MM Krishnamani said Verma could be prosecuted even in Britian for the offence of wife beating. The diplomatic immunity that he enjoyed has ended as he has been recalled by India.

"Diplomatic immunity is a temporary thing and not a permanent affair," he said.

Krishnamani said that if his wife chooses she can move against him under the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence law. The remedy under the domestic violence law is not incident specific but concerns the conduct of the perpetrator of the harassment.

Krishnamani said even if Verma`s wife does not move against him, the disgraced diplomat may not escape departmental proceedings for his misconduct bringing disrepute to the country and its diplomatic fraternity.

Will all these provisions of the criminal law come into operation? "Trial for one offence can be in England but for the rest it can be in India. But she will have to come back (to India). Which apparently she is not inclined to do," said lawyer Kamini Jaiswal.

Under the domestic violence law and other statute, Paromita was entitled to compensation and maintenance, says Jaiswal.

Even if Verma`s wife doesn`t legally proceed against her husband, the disgraced official could come in the firing line of women rights organisations when he reaches Delhi, said a lawyer.