At the time of her controversial arrest by the New York police on December 12, Devyani Khobragade was entitled to full diplomatic immunity, says the Indian government.
For, said sources here who would not allow themselves to be named, she wasn’t only working at our local consultate but was also officially an “advisor” to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
Khobragade was posted in New York as Deputy Consul General and got accredited as advisor in the UN with effect from August 26, valid till Tuesday, the sources said. And, under the relevant UN rule, binding on member-countries, all representatives of members to the UN get immunity from “personal arrest or detention and from the seizure of their personal baggage”.
Section 16 of the relevant Article states “representative” encompasses all delegates, deputy delegates, advisors, technical experts and secretaries of delegations.
An official involved said the government had pointed to this fact in its communications to the US state department.
Also, the government on Thursday claimed New York prosecuting attorney Preet Bharara had “incorrectly depicted” Khobragade’s salary as filled in the relevant record.
The government stand is that the envoy by mistake wrote her own salary ($4,500) in the temporary work visa application form of her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and the attorney compounded this mistake in the later justification for the action against Khobragade.
A 1999-batch IFS officer and deputy consul general, Khobragade was arrested by the New York police on visa fraud charges and for underpaying Richard, while taking her daughter to school. She was later released on a $250,000 bail and denied making any false claims, while accusing Richard of extortion, theft and blackmail. She was both handcuffed and strip-searched.