India's relations with Italy has hit rock bottom with Rome's refusal to send back its marines back to India for further trial in connection with the murder of two Indian fishermen.
Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi, an Italian by birth, has finally broken her silence over the matter at the general body meeting of Congress parliamentary party. She warned Italy saying that no country should take India for granted.
The Supreme Court of India on Monday extended its restraining order against Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country in connection with the refusal of the Italy government to send back the two marines.
The apex court on Thursday issued a notice to the Italian envoy not to leave India without its permission following a plea filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy accusing him for contempt of court.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said on Monday that the matter would be taken up on 2 April when senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi will appear for the Italy government and its envoy. The bench added that its order to the envoy not to leave the country has been extended till further orders and has directed the government to take steps on the same.
The bench also observed that the order of the Supreme Court hasn't been violated yet as the four-week home stay for the two marines ends only on 22 March.
The Union Home Ministry had earlier alerted all the exit points, including airports to prevent Italian ambassador from leaving the country after the restraining order was issued.
Meanwhile, Italy has accused India of violating international laws by preventing its envoy from leaving the country as ambassadors enjoy diplomatic immunity. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, said that there is no immunity for any person who comes to court and gives an undertaking. It added that it has nothing to do with what happens between India and Italy, and is concerned only with the case before it.
According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, diplomats enjoy immunity, and Mancini cannot be pulled up by the court, detained or restrained from leaving the country.
Article 31 of the convention says that a diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in matters that are not on behalf of the sending state.
India is talking tough but the most it can do is cut all diplomatic and economic ties with Italy for the breach of trust. Its decision to retrain the movement of the Italian ambassador is against international law, as he represents his country.
Speculations are doing the rounds that New Delhi could snap all diplomatic ties with Rome, including closing down of Italian embassy in the country and recalling its ambassador from Italy.
Hinting that New Delhi is ready to retaliate, the Indian government has reportedly told Basant Kumar Gupta, ambassador-designate to Italy, not to leave for Rome following the controversy. Gupta, who was named the successor to former ambassador Debabrata Saha, was supposed to leave for Rome on Friday.
It is also speculated that India would resort to severing all economic ties with Italy, including complete shutdown of all Italian companies operating in the country, if Rome doesn't send back its marines to India.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier warned Italy of consequences in the relation between the two countries if Italy fails to keep its word. He also requested the Parliament Houses to take the matter seriously and act together.
The foreign secretary also summoned the Italian ambassador last week and conveyed India's stand on the matter in the strongest of terms saying, "India expects Republic of Italy as a country that is committed to the rule of law to fulfill the sovereign undertaking given by it to the Supreme Court of India".
Meanwhile, foreign minister of Italy, Giulio Terzi, sought for international arbitration. Italy insisted that the February 2012 shooting happened in international waters and was therefore outside the jurisdiction of India. However, India argued that the fishermen were shot dead within the Indian Contiguous Zone.
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were arrested for the alleged murder of two fishermen off the Kerala coast on 15 February last year, while on anti-piracy duty of guarding an Italian oil tanker. They were allowed to stay in Italy for a period of four weeks by the Supreme Court of India only on assurance by the Italian envoy that they would be sent back to India under the care, supervision and control of the Italian Republic after the completion of the stipulated time.
In an unexpected turnaround, Italy conveyed a message to India that it will not send back its marines to India for further trial, causing furor in India.