Obama administration surprised over dismissal of Devyani Khobragade’s indictment

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Devyani-Khobragade12A day after a US federal court dismissed charges of visa fraud and making false statements against Devyani Khobragade, the Obama Administration has expressed surprised over the dismissal of a federal indictment against the Indian diplomat.

“We were surprised by the dismissal of the indictment against former Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said, a day after a New York court dismissed the indictment against Khobragade.

US District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Wednesday that no proceeding by the US government could be heard as Khobragade, being a diplomat, was immune from the court’s jurisdiction.

US District Judge Shira Scheindlin said in her 14-page order that “it is undisputed” that Khobragade acquired full diplomatic immunity at 5:47 pm on January 8 after the US State Department approved her accreditation as a counselor to India’s mission to the United Nations.

While the indictment was returned on January 9, Khobragade had the immunity till she departed from the US for India on the evening of January 9 and so the prosecutors cannot proceed with the current indictment.

The ruling, however, left open the possibility that US prosecutors could bring a new indictment against Khobragade.

Khobragade, an Indian consular official in New York, was arrested and strip-searched by the New York federal authorities last December on charges of visa fraud and irregularities in payments to her maid, Sangeeta Richard.

India termed as “good as far as it goes” the dismissal of visa fraud charges against Khobragade, whose arrest had triggered a diplomatic row between the two countries.

“We have seen the judgment related to the indictment of January 9. It is good as far as it goes,” spokesperson in the ministry of external affairs said.