In India, the concept of sovereign immunity or crown immunity as available to foreign states/rulers, is governed by Section 86 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (“CPC”). The legal doctrine essentially states that the sovereign or a foreign state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from a civil suit or criminal prosecution.
The doctrine is based on the legal maxim rex non potest peccare which means the king can do no wrong and is based on a common law governed by British jurisprudence. India also follows another principle which states, par in parem non habet imperium, which means one sovereign state is not subject to jurisdiction of another state.
Even while Indian law affords such protection to foreign state actors, Indian courts, in order to not let genuine claims be defeated, have been narrowing the scope of sovereign immunity, and have restricted the same. The principle of sovereign immunity covers the entire judicial process, from the institution of proceedings up to the stage of orders and decisions passed by a court as well as their execution.
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