Italian envoy breached solemn undertaking to SC: Harish Salve

New Delhi: Harish Salve, who quit as Italian government's counsel after it refused to send back two marines accused of killing fishermen, feels the Italian Ambassador breached a solemn undertaking given to Supreme Court which can take action against the envoy including sending him to jail.

"It is said in the law that even an injunction or undertaking to a court which has no jurisdiction, if breached, you are in contempt," the senior Supreme Court lawyer said.

Asked whether Italian Ambassador Daniel Mancini breached the solemn undertaking on ensuring return of the two marines to face trial in India and if he is in contempt of the court, Salve said, "Absolutely".

On if he felt that the Court will take action against him, Salve said, "...The question is what...we have to wait and see."

Harish Salve during the show. Image from CNN-IBN screengrab.

Harish Salve during the show. Image from CNN-IBN screengrab.

To a question whether the Italian Ambassador could end up in jail, Salve told Karan Thapar in Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN, "Theoretically, yes".

About its practical likelihood, he said, "Depends on how they want to deal with him. But they can if they want to send him to jail."

Unhappy over the Italian government's refusal to send back the marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen, the Supreme Court has restrained Italian Ambassador from leaving India without its permission.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice has also issued notices to the Ambassador and the two marines —Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone— asking them to file their response by 18 March.

Salve said he feels that the Ambassador will find it "very hard" to explain in the court why he breached a solemn undertaking.

Responding to a query on enforcing action against a person enjoying diplomatic immunity, the senior lawyer said, "Our Constitution commands everybody will act in aid and according to directions of the Supreme Court."

The two marines were allowed by the apex court to go to Italy to cast their vote in the elections there after the Italian envoy had given an assurance to send them back.

"Insulted" and "shocked" by Italy's stand on the issue, Salve had quit as counsel for the Italian government.


Updated Date: Mar 17, 2013 14:19 PM

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