Court of US on 12 March 2014 ruled that the Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade had full diplomatic immunity at the time of indictment on visa fraud and underpaying her maid.
The Court had dropped all charges against her claiming that the day when the charge was returned to her, she definitely had diplomatic immunity. This order was passed by US District Judge Shira Scheindlin supporting her diplomatic immunity in a 14-page order.
The Court in its judgment said that Khobragade was given full immunity by the State Department on 8 January 2014, which was not lost till her departure from the country on 9 January 2014. Although she had no immunity at the time of arrest on 12 December but she acquired immunity during the pendency of proceedings, which mandates dismissal. The judgment also claimed that the Court lacked jurisdiction over her at that time and at the time of Indictment was returned, the motion must be granted.
As per the judgment, Khobragade who served as Consular officer in the US from 25 October 2012 to 8 January 2014 was at a position of consular immunity as per the Vienna Convention.
Earlier, US arrested Khobragade on 12 December 2013 on visa fraud and also because she made false statements regarding visa application of her domestic help Sangeeta Richard. During the arrest, she was strip-searched and this event started a row between India and US. Following this India downgraded privileges of certain category of US diplomats along with other steps.
What is diplomatic immunity?
Diplomatic immunity is a principle of international law by which certain foreign government officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of local courts and other authorities for both their official and to a large extent, their personal activities.
Under the international law requires that even US along with its law enforcement authorities should extend certain privileges and immunities to member of foreign diplomatic mission and consular posts.