Indian Envoy, at Center of Arrest Row in U.S. in 2013, Wins Reprieve at Home

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to promote her immediately to joint secretary level.


Former Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who made news after she was accused of exploiting her housemaid in the United States in 2013, earned reprieve in India on March 23 following orders of her promotion at work. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), that adjudicates matters related to recruitment and service conditions of government employees, directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to promote her immediately to the joint secretary level. The appellate body also pulled up the ministry for keeping an inquiry against Khobragade pending for almost two years.

The allegations against Khobragade in the United States led to the souring of relations between the two countries after the diplomat was strip-searched during an investigation into her Indian house-maid’s accusations that she was underpaid. The UPA government, which was then in power, had also threatened to reduce immunity enjoyed by the U.S. diplomats in India.

Despite India supporting Khobragade, who was then posted as the deputy Consul-General of India in New York, her relationship with the MEA has been rocky. She was accused of breaking service rules by the ministry and of giving a “misleading” statement about the citizenship status of her children to the media without seeking permission. She reportedly obtained both Indian and American passports for her two daughters. She has also moved the high court against the MEA’s refusal to give her daughters Indian citizenship. Her children live in the United States with their father and Khobragade is not permitted to travel abroad due to the pending case against her in the United States.

The inquiry against her in India had been pending from May 2015 to December 2016. The administrative tribunal said that her interest had been grievously prejudiced by this unexplained delay caused by the MEA even though they received her representation in March 2015 to the charges against her.

The pending inquiry against her meant that she did not get her promotion, unlike other 1999 IFS batchmates. Now the ministry has been directed by CAT to promote her to joint secretary with effect from 2016.

“This shall be done within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order. It is also clarified that the applicant shall be entitled to all consequential benefits,” the CAT order said.

Khobragade had approached CAT after her letter to the then foreign secretary, S Jaishankar, did not yield any results. She had said that the delay in the inquiry is stopping her promotion despite her outstanding service records.

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