Khobragade reinstated in MEA's new division
Devyani Khobragade has been reinstated and posted in the Ministry of External Affairs' (MEA) newly created 'states division'. In her new role as Director, she may not be allowed to travel abroad. The case against her in the US is still pending and owing to Washington's extradition treaties with 110 countries, she can be extradited to the US from the foreign soil.
Deputy Consul General in USA - Devyani Khobragade was arrested in New York on counts of visa fraud and making a false statement. Prosecutors alleged that Khobragade falsely signed visa documents for her housekeeper and paid her only $3.13/hour ($600/month), despite telling the US immigration officials that she would pay $4,500 a month. Khobragade was released on $250,000 bail after surrendering her passport.
Devyani Khobragade joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1999. Devyani was found to have received undue favors in her postings and was embroiled in the Adarsh Housing Society Scam by owning a flat without eligibility.
In an email to her IFS colleagues, Khobragade mentioned that she was handcuffed, subjected to strip-search, DNA swabbing and cavity searches. US State Department responded insisting that Khobragde did not have immunity under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). They specified that under VCCR, she enjoyed immunity from US courts only "with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions."
With a court appearance due in New York, Devyani Khobragade was allowed to leave US. At the time of her departure, she reiterated her innocence on charges levied against her. According to a diplomatic note issued by the US mission to the UN, a warrant may be issued for Khobragade's arrest and she could be arrested if she entered US.
After a judge dismissed charges against her on 12 March, Devyani Khobragade was reindicted on 14 March. The new indictment made by US attorney Preet Bharara said that Khobragade 'knowingly made' false representations to obtain visa for her domestic help. This step was unnecessary, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. He added that this could hurt the already tensed relations between Indian and US.
After speaking to the media without permission, the Indian Government stripped Devyani off her duties in the MEA. She was put on "compulsory wait". A MEA spokesperson said that the action was taken in relation to an ongoing inquiry against her in a vigilance case. The vigilance case was due to Devyani's non-disclosure of her children's US passports which irked the government.
'Compulsory wait' is when officials have to wait in case there are no vacancies, till they are assigned a post. It is a case of 'no work, yet pay'.