India did not violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by asking 41 Canadian diplomats to be repatriated, the Ministry of External Affairs asserted on October 20, in response to Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, who had accused India of violating diplomatic norms by seeking a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats posted in India.
Ms. Joly had earlier announced that due to the reduced number of officials, Canada was forced to stop in-person services at its consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Such services will now be available only in the Canadian High Commission in Delhi.
“We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation. Our actions in implementing this parity are fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the MEA said, in a statement.
Accusing the Canadian government of maintaining a much higher number of diplomats in India, the MEA said that the reduction was necessitated by Canada’s “continued interference” in India’s internal affairs. “We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the statement said.
A source further informed that India’s decision to seek parity was not sudden and was conveyed to Canada around a month back, with the deadline of October 10 being extended till October 20 subsequently, in consultation with the Canadian side.
‘India’s actions unreasonable’
Earlier, the Canadian Foreign Minister confirmed that Ottawa had acknowledged India’s move to take away diplomatic immunities from 41 Canadian diplomats, along with 42 dependents who were stationed in Delhi. “A unilateral revocation of diplomatic privileges and immunities is contrary to international law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” Ms. Joly told the Canadian media.
“This action taken by India is completely unreasonable and escalatory. India accredited each and every one of the Canadian diplomats they are now expelling. And all of those diplomats were carrying out their duties in good faith, and to the greater benefit of both countries,” she added.
Ms. Joly also announced that the reduction in the number of diplomats would hit the Canadian consular, with in-person services becoming unavailable at its consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. “We will now be forced to pause temporarily all in-person services at consulates, until further notice. India’s decision will impact levels of services to citizens of both countries,” she said.
“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will continue to accept and process applications from India. However, certain application requirements will need to be completed locally or on-site in a secure environment. As a result, the reduction in the size of the IRCC team will affect service standards for residents of India,” the Foreign Minister added.
An Indian source has claimed that reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in India in fact did not impact the staff requirement in the Canadian consulates in Bengaluru, Chandigarh, and Mumbai saying, “The Canadian decision to cease operations of their three consulates in India is unilateral, and not related to the implementation of parity.”
Nijjar probe to continue
The relationship between Canada and India nosedived on September 18, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Indian agents of being behind the June 18 killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, leader of the Khalistan Tiger Force, who lived in Surrey, British Columbia.
Ms. Joly vowed that the reduction in the number of diplomats would not impact Canada’s investigation in the Nijjar case. “India’s decision will not distract from Canada’s legitimate investigation into the killing of Mr. Nijjar. Canada’s priorities in this matter continue to be the pursuit of the truth, the protection of Canadians, and the defence of our sovereignty,” she said.