'No merit in fresh case against Devyani'

Indo-US ties flounder after re-indictment

'No merit in  fresh case against Devyani'

India’s relief over láffiare Khobragade was short-lived as prosecutors in the United States brought a fresh indictment against the Indian diplomat in New York on Saturday. New Delhi said the move could affect its strategic ties with Washington.

A day after fresh charges were filed against 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, New Delhi called it “an unnecessary step” and made it clear that the Indian government would no longer engage in the case. Earlier this week a district court in New York had dismissed charges brought by prosecutors against the diplomat.

“We are disappointed that the relevant office of the United States Department of Justice chose to obtain a second indictment against an IFS officer, Dr Devyani Khobragade, despite the fact that the first indictment and arrest warrant were dismissed earlier this week,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued on Saturday. The fresh indictment in the case against Khobragade is being perceived as a stubborn stance taken by Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

On Saturday, New Delhi sought to underscore the involvement of the US Department of Justice in the fresh indictment, saying that Washington couldn’t shirk away responsibility of any consequence it might have on Indo-US bilateral ties.

“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,” said Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs.

The US district court Judge Shira Scheindlin noted that the IFS officer enjoyed full diplomatic immunity when she was indicted on January 9. 

“As far as India is concerned, we reiterate that the case has no merit. Therefore this second indictment has no impact on our stated position. Now that Dr Khobragade has returned to India, the Court in the United States has no jurisdiction in India over her,” said Akbaruddin.

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