Wife-beating: India hopes diplomat’s recall will end immunity row

Monday, January 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - India hopes that an unsavoury controversy surrounding Anil Verma, an Indian diplomat in London accused of assaulting his wife, will be set at rest after the external affairs ministry’s decision over the weekend to recall him, informed sources said Monday.

“British officials suggested that New Delhi should either recall Verma or waive his diplomatic immunity. Now that he has been recalled, the issue (over diplomatic immunity) is over,” the sources added.

Last week, Britain had asked India to waive Verma’s diplomatic immunity, saying it “does not tolerate envoys working in the UK breaking the law”.

“We can confirm that we have formally requested the waiver of diplomatic immunity for a diplomat posted at the Indian High Commission in London,” a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson said in London over the weekend.

“The Foreign Offices does not tolerate diplomats working in the UK breaking the law,” the spokesperson said in a strongly-worded statement.

British Foreign Office representatives met with staff of the Indian High Commission in London to discuss the matter and to emphasise the serious nature of the allegations, the FCO said.

British High Commission staff in Delhi also met officials of the external affairs ministry over the incident last week.

Verma, the third senior-most Indian diplomat and minister (economic) at India’s high commission, had reportedly sought immunity from prosecution after being questioned by British police over claims that he assaulted his wife in December last year.

Sources added that Verma, a 1986 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of West Bengal cadre, is being transferred to Delhi immediately. The ministry will decide on further action after it probes the allegations of assault against the diplomat.

After the incident last month, the external affairs ministry had said the Indian high commission and the ministry were aware of it and were carefully looking into it.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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