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US Court Re-opens Devyani Case
Mar 20, 2014

A New York grand jury has re-indicted Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on two counts of underpaying her housekeeper and falsifying a visa application.The announcement from the Manhattan federal prosecutor came two days after a US judge threw out a previous case on the grounds that the consul enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Devyani was arrested on December 12 outside her children's New York school. She was detained and strip-searched, enraging the Indian government and the Indian public. India claimed full diplomatic immunity on her behalf and it was on those grounds that she petitioned a US court on January 9 to drop the case. US District Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed the indictment on the grounds that Devyani was granted full diplomatic immunity on January 8.

But in response Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York said they intended to re-charge the diplomat. He argued, the court had only found that Devyani had immunity during a limited period of time between January 8 and January 9, when the current indictment was returned by a grand injury. The indictment accuses Devyani of presenting false information to obtain a visa for her housekeeper and for not wanting to pay the wages required under US law.

India Disappointed: The Indian government says it was disappointed by new US charges against an Indian diplomat for visa fraud involving employment of a housekeeper and warned the move could reignite a bitter row between the countries. Any measures consequent to this decision in the US will unfortunately impact upon efforts on both sides to build the India-US strategic partnership, to which both sides are committed. This was an unnecessary step and the case is without merit and will therefore no longer engage on this case in the United States' legal system.


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