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India’s Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade held in US on visa fraud charges

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India’s Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade held in US on visa fraud charges

December 17, 2013

India’s Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragadearrested in New York for an alleged case of visa fraud and making false statements in connection with the visa application for an Indian national employee who was domestic helper in her home. Later on, she released on a $250000 bond after she pleaded not guilty in a court.

The U.S. State Department clarified that Indian diplomat does not enjoy immunity from US laws. It is firm about its policies in support of the domestic workers. Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations(VCCR), the Indian Deputy Consul General enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

Ms. Devyani is currently employed as the Deputy Consul General for Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the Consulate General of India in New York.
Why was Ms. Devyani Khobragade arrested?

Indian diplomat Ms. Devyani was accused of paying her domestic assistant just a few dollars an hour and lying on a visa application. The minimum wage paid to the employee in USA is $4,500 a month, but she was paying only $530 a month.
What is the reaction of Indian Embassy over the arrest of Indian Diplomat?

The Indian embassy pointed to Article 41 (section 3) of VCCR (Personal Inviolability of Consular Officers) which clearly says that proceedings against a consular officer “shall be conducted with the respect due to him by reason of his official position”. The Indian Government has taken this issue forcefully with the US saying that the action by law authorities was in complete violation of this Article and least expected from a friendly country.
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963:

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an internationaltreaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent countries. A consul normally operates out of an embassy in another country, and performs two functions:

  • protecting in the host country the interests of their countrymen, and

  • furthering the commercial and economic relations between the two countries.

While a consul is not a diplomat, they work out of the same premises, and under this treaty they are afforded most of the same privileges, including a variation of diplomatic immunity called consular immunity. The treaty has been ratified by 176 countries.

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