March 15: India today described the second indictment against Devyani Khobragade in the US as an “unnecessary step” and said any subsequent measure would “unfortunately” hit efforts to build an India-US strategic partnership.
Making it clear India did not see merit in the case, the external affairs ministry said after the diplomat’s return the US court had no jurisdiction over her and the government would no longer engage on this case in the American legal system.
“We are disappointed that the relevant office of the United States department of justice chose to obtain a second indictment against Devyani Khobragade, despite the fact that the first indictment and arrest warrant were dismissed earlier this week,” the ministry said.
The second indictment, which came a day after a US court dismissed an earlier one, accused Devyani of visa fraud charges, of “illegally” underpaying and “exploiting” her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and of making false statements about the maid’s visa application. “This was an unnecessary stepů. We reiterate that the case has no merit. Therefore, this second indictment has no impact on our stated position.”
An arrest warrant was today issued against Devyani in the US.
Devyani’s father Uttam Khobragade said in Mumbai the re-indictment showed the prosecutor had “no respect” for their own law.
Asked if he felt that India was washing its hands of the matter, he said: “No, I don’t think so. I think the statement that re-indictment will impact the India-US relations is strong enough.”
But, he added, India could send a stronger message by cancelling arms purchase deals with the US. “India is the only country buying arms from them right now. China is not buying. Pakistan’s demand has saturated. Why should you buy arms from a country that is behaving so badly with you?” the retired IAS officer said.
“Our government is very polite, and has been using civilised language,” he said.