The Saudi diplomat who has been accused of raping two Nepalese female domestic helps will not be arrested since he enjoys diplomatic immunity, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has decided.
“The Saudi Arabian diplomat cannot be arrested because he has diplomatic immunity,” an MEA official told The Quint today.
However, according to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 while diplomats posted in consulates get immunity, they can be prosecuted in case of serious crimes.
Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.
— Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963
Of course the words “competent judicial authority” here are left ambiguous. On the other hand, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Saud Alsati says, “The embassy is preparing a statement. We will get back to you soon.”
Earlier, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup had Tweeted that India has conveyed the Haryana police’s request for cooperation of the Saudi embassy in the case. The MEA is yet to receive a reply from the Saudi Arabian embassy.
Regardless of the controversy that has erupted, pitching Saudi and Nepalese authorities against their Indian counterparts, the question remains – is New Delhi helpless to act against the diplomats because of immunity, or because of the special ties between India and Saudi Arabia?
The Haryana police had submitted an investigation report to the MEA related to the case. Gurgaon Police Commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk says that he is waiting for orders from the MEA to arrest the diplomat.
We are waiting for MEA reply. We haven’t yet identified other rapists in the case. To identify them we have to interrogate the Saudi Arabian diplomat.
— Navdeep Singh Virk, Police Commissioner, Gurgaon
The copy of the FIR, which is in possession of The Quint, reveals the brutality the two Nepalese women were met with. The FIR doesn’t name the Saudi Arabian Diplomat.