In a new twist, it has now emerged that senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade enjoyed full diplomatic immunity including from personal arrest and detention on December 12 when she was taken into custody by the United States authorities in a visa fraud case.
Thirty-nine-year-old Khobragade, who was posted as Deputy Consul General in New York, was also accredited as an "advisor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations" by the UN with effect from August 26, 2013 and her status as an advisor was valid until 31 December 2013. The accreditation was for the UN General Assembly 2013.
Under the ‘Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations’, Article 4 Section 11A specifies "Immunities from personal arrest or detention and from the seizure of their personal baggage" of all representatives of members to the UN and further the article specifies that the expression "representative" shall be deemed to include all delegates, deputy delegates, advisors, technical experts and secretaries of delegations.
"Her arrest, therefore, on December 12, 2013 was contrary to her status on that date," sources said. The sources also said India has taken up the matter with the US State Department.
The 1999-batch Indian Foreign Service officer was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. The diplomat was released on a $250,000 bond after being charged with visa fraud.
Subsequent revelations that she was strip searched and held with criminals triggered a row between the two sides with India downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.
Image: Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade