The Devyani-Sangeeta Richard Case

Devyani Khobragade Case

The recent dispute between Indo-American diplomatic ties has caused due to the arrest of “Ms. Devyani Khobragade”, who is a mid-ranking Indian IFS officer. The Indian diplomat was arrested and treated like usual criminals. The strip search practice was done with the Indian diplomat and later on she got placed in a cell with drug addicts. In response, Indian government has taken off all major privileges it provides to American diplomats. On the other hand, the US state department’s spokesperson “Marie Harf” has called the issue sensitive but an isolated chapter, which will not harm the diplomatic relations of both countries.

The Conflict: The Indian diplomat has been arrested for supplying false information to US visa authorities while bringing her domestic help to the USA. As per the complaint of “Sangeeta Richard” filed in a US court, “Ms. Devyani Khobragade” made two distinct employment contracts: verbal and written for hiring the Mrs. Richard as a babysitter and domestic help. According the verbal contract, this job makes Mrs. Sangeeta Richard earn INR 25000 a month including sick leave, weekly holiday, medical care, boarding – lodging, and INR 5000 for overtime. On the other hand, the written contract uses the figure $4500 including all facilities to employee, applicable in the USA. The core of the conflict lies right here; the minimum wages in US is $7.25 per hour whereas Sangeeta was getting paid $416 per month, which is one tenth of her lawful salary. In her complaint, Sangeeta Richard has said that Ms. Khobragade stopped her to reveal her real salary during visa interview, which made the way of the arrest of Ms. Devyani Khobragade. Hence, US state police department has arrested Ms. Khobragade for providing wrong information to visa officials.

The Reason: It is tough to find political and international reasons behind arrest and wrong treatment with a diplomat, as the case is still unfolding. From broader point of view, we can see Ms. Khobragade as culprit for exploiting her domestic help but there is a bitter truth. The Indian diplomats, appointed on foreign missions and embassies get the salary as per the Indian standards. Therefore, they cannot pay a whopping salary $4500 to their babysitters as they themselves get about $4800 per month. In order to get the things done, the visa officials has been keeping such dual contracts out of sight. It was undeniably denial to the local wages issues.

Different Factors:

Given the outrage in India, erupted over the mishandling of a woman DCG (Deputy Consul General), the different segments of Indian politics & media have called this incident deliberate and provocative. There are multiple factors, which are seeking ground on Indian and international media.

The Preetinder Bharara’s Factor: It has been believed across Indian and international media channels that Preet Bharara, the US attorney of New York southern district, is trying to portray himself unbiased towards Indians for paving his path to presidential elections like Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City.

The Easy Indian Attitude: As India has not shown any hard actions on events like mishandling of former defense minister “George Fernandez”, Former Indian President “A.P.J. Abdul Kalaam”, and “Shahrukh Khan” so the US state depart did not think twice before giving arrest orders for “Ms. Devyani Khobragade”.

The Super-Power Factor:  The “Vienna convention on diplomatic relations” helped US when its citizen Raymond Allen Davis, a CIA contractor killed two Pakistani citizens. The USA claimed diplomatic immunity on this issue as the murderer was the diplomat of American government. However, the same convention does not apply in Ms. Khobragade case even when the nature of crime is not serious. So, the powerful enjoys the fruits of such conventions whereas developing countries get rotten part.

The US Law Enforcement Factor: From a broad viewpoint, the US court cannot avoid the complaint of Ms. Sangeeta Richard as she was working on the US soil. Hence, she is entitled to get the wages as per the US laws. Therefore, the arrest order was essential. However, the nature of arrest can be discussed because the Indian diplomat enjoys diplomatic immunity.

In case, the law takes its own course then the future of Indian diplomat in US is bleak. However, the diplomat can enjoy full diplomatic immunity. Therefore, the government should make some arrangements for future so that any such cases don’t cause harm to officers representing India across the world.


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