Legal Maxim

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Literal meaning

Person not welcome




This maxim has evolved in the field of diplomatic relations and such a declaration means that the foreign diplomat is unwelcome in that country; he is not permitted to enter or continue to stay in a particular country. Just as the principle of diplomatic immunity provides protection to the State sending the diplomat, this principle of persona non grata safeguards the interests of the receiving State. Such a statement could be given either before the diplomat even arrives at the receiving state, or after he has started carrying out his functions. Therefore, not every statement results in the diplomat’s expulsion, but if it does, it has to be in conformity with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, 1961.


State X sends a diplomat to State Y.  Due to war, or severed relations between the States, or due to some offense committed by the diplomat, State X can issue a statement declaring the diplomat to be persona non grata (unwelcome) to their State.


In 2016, Surjeet Singh an Indian national was declared persona non grata by the Government of Pakistan. This happened shortly after the Government of India detained a Pakistani diplomat before his expulsion, thereby causing a violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961. Therefore, this incident was on account of the strained relations between the two states. This case led to his expulsion from the country.

In 2014, Devyani Khobragade incident occurred; she was an Indian diplomat in New York. She was accused of stating false information to enter the country, and committing visa fraud for her servant. Upon request, India refused to waive its immunity and charge the diplomat in the Court. Hence, the United States applied this principle and declared her an unwanted diplomat, leading to her expulsion from the country.

In 2013, Jagmeet Singh, was a Canadian MPP, was barred from traveling to India by application of this principle. He was the first sitting member from a Western Legislature, whose visa was canceled for travel to India. This was primarily based on the accusation that he was linked to the Khalistan Extremists settled in Canada, who had bombed Air Flight 182 causing a deadly incident.

This maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Ayushi Goyal during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Ayushi is a 4th-year law student at Christ University, Bangalore.

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