Devyani gets relief, India softens stand

Devyani gets relief, India softens stand

 With its diplomat Devyani Khobragade being exempted from personal appearance for pre-trial procedure in New York on Monday, New Delhi has slowed down the measures it initiated against the US consular officials in India in retaliation to her arrest for alleged visa fraud and exploitation of her maid Sangeeta Richard.

Khobragade, who was arrested on December 12 and released on bail the same day, was supposed to appear before an official for pre-trial procedure on Monday. She, however, was exempted from personal appearance for the pre-trial procedure after her attorney Daniel Arshack requested for a waiver.

The pre-trial process in fact commenced on December 16, when US authorities took her urine sample to test for drugs.

The 1999 batch Indian Foreign Service officer also received accreditation from the United Nations as a newest member of the diplomatic corps representing New Delhi to the international organisation.

With both New Delhi and Washington trying to deescalate the diplomatic spat over the arrest of the IFS officer, the Ministry of External Affairs on Monday appeared to have accepted the request of American Embassy here for extension of the deadline for submitting the salary details of Indians employed by the US consulates in India, including the ones appointed as domestic helps by the consular officials and their families. The MEA earlier asked the American Embassy to furnish details by Monday. The move was in response to the US authorities’ action against Khobragade. The MEA also asked for the salary details of the spouses or other family members of the US consular officials working outside the consulates.

New Delhi also appeared to have softened its stance and extended the deadline for the US consular officials and their families to return the diplomatic ID cards issued by the MEA.
Khobragade was the Deputy Consul General of India in New York when she was arrested by US law enforcement officials.

New Delhi, however, shifted her to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations to ensure that she enjoys greater immunity from legal proceedings in the US.

The US State Department earlier said that she enjoyed limited immunity as a consular official.
Sources said that Office of Foreign Missions of the US Department of State would issue a new diplomatic ID card for Khobragade. Though the necessary paperwork and procedural formalities between the UN and US State Department already started, sources said that the new ID card might be issued only after the vacation for Christmas.

The US, however, made it clear that her immunity as a diplomat assigned to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN would not be retroactive and would be effective only as long as she continued to be a member of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps to the international organization.

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