Devyani Khobragade incident: arrest same sex companions of US diplomats in India, says Yashwant Sinha

Posted on 18th Dec 2013 12:22 pm by admin

New Delhi: Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha raised eyebrows on Tuesday with a comment that after the arrest and alleged mistreatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US, India should reciprocate by arresting the same sex companions of American diplomats using a Supreme Court verdict that restored a ban on gay sex last week.

"My suggestion to the Government of India is, the media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of US diplomats' companions. 'Companions' means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country. Just as paying less wages was illegal in the US. So, why doesn't the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them? Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them," Mr Sinha said.

Background of Devyani

Devyani Khobragade, a mid-ranking, young diplomat currently posted as Deputy Consul General for Political, Economic, Commercial and Women's Affairs was arrested by the New York police on Thursday. The US authorities accused her of helping the Indian nanny in submitting fake documents to the US State Department saying that she was paying $4,500 per month, when in reality, the nanny or the domestic help got only $573 a month. Devyani had hired the nanny in 2012 and she was working as a babysitter and domestic help at her house in the upscale Manhattan area of New York till last June.

According to New York Times the diplomat is accused of telling the woman to lie on her visa application to get to the United States and say she was going to be paid the higher amount. Then, Khobragade allegedly had the woman sign a second, under-the-radar contract that noted the nanny's monthly salary including overtime - the much smaller amount. The nanny and her husband, who were not named, are serving as witnesses in the case.


As per the US laws which are extremely hard on human exploitation and human trafficking, Devyani has committed a very serious crime. The Manhattan US Attorney of Indian origin Preet Barara who has ordered the arrest of Devyani terms the charges as very serious. Talking to the media he said, "This type of fraud on the USA and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated."

According to him she has been charged with one count each of visa fraud and making false statements. Devyani is now out on bail. Her lawyer Daniel Arshack claims that she enjoys diplomatic immunity and she can't be prosecuted under the US law.

US argument

But US authorities are maintaining that she does not enjoy diplomatic immunity and the judiciary is independent like India. It is denying that the proper procedure was not followed the arrest.

"Our Diplomatic Security folks followed our standard procedures, which I'm assuming are standard for diplomats because that's who our Diplomatic Security deals with," a US State Department spokesman said.

According to a US news agency report the US spokesman added that under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 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.

"There are different kinds of immunity. This isn't just in the US; it's all around the world. So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant," says US State department complicating the matters for India.

India Action

India also withdrew all airport passes for consulates and embassy vehicles which mean they cannot get priority treatment and will have to park their vehicles as ordinary passengers after paying the fee. In another stern step authorities asked for all details including salaries paid to all Indian staff employed in US consulates, including those working as domestic help by the Americans families in India.

To determine if they're paying tax or not, India also asked for visa details of all teachers at US schools in the country and what they're being paid and details of their bank accounts. Delhi Police removed barricades setup outside the US Embassy and all import clearances for the Embassy have also been stopped, which means American diplomats cannot import anything.

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