The verbal roasting that Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini got from the Supreme Court yesterday was well deserved. Saying it no longer had faith in his word, the court also peremptorily rejected Mancini's claims of diplomatic immunity. Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said: A person who has come to court as a petitioner, I don't think he has any immunity. Some people are writing that we are nave. What do they think about our judicial system? We don't expect the Republic of Italy to behave like this. He (the Ambassador) has lost the trust. However, given the weight of international opinion and our own domestic legal opinion on the sanctity of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna convention, neither the Supreme Court nor the Indian government can afford to continue in this vein. The only way forward is for India to play power politics - assuming it has the guts to do so. This is what it could do. First, the government has to convince the court that Mancini should not get anything more than a verbal censure. After that he should be declared persona non grata and the Italian mission in India shut down. India should end all diplomatic relationships with Italy and allow a small desk in Switzerland or France to handle India's Italian ties. Once Mancini is out of India, the Supreme Court should issue a contempt notice to him and declare him an absconder if he fails to turn up without immunity.
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