This Article is From Dec 23, 2013

Devyani Khobragade case: diplomat a step away from full immunity, current case still on

Devyani Khobragade case: diplomat a step away from full immunity, current case still on
New Delhi/New York: Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested in the US for alleged visa fraud, has been granted UN accreditation, which will take her one step closer to full diplomatic immunity, top sources say.

Accreditation to India's permanent mission to the UN will entitle Ms Khobragade to a US State Department Identity card, which means she will not have to be present in court and will also have immunity but not in the ongoing case. The ID card is likely to be issued after Christmas, say sources.

Sources say India hopes to push for the charges to be dropped, but if not, Ms Khobragade can at least get her passport back, and can be sent back to India. American authorities have already waived the diplomat's pre-trial appearance today.

The Americans in India have asked for more time to comply with a slew of retaliatory orders issued by New Delhi after Ms Khobragade's arrest and humiliation. US diplomats and consulate staff are likely to surrender their ID cards today, but have reportedly asked for more time to furnish staff salary details as demanded by India.

Sources say India took a tough stand to show that it means business and special privileges to diplomats are based on reciprocity.

Ms Khobragade, posted as Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested on December 12 over allegations that she paid her domestic help Sangeeta Richard a fraction of American minimum wages and lied on the woman's visa application.

As US and India look at resolving the deadlock over the row, questions are being raised about whether Indians have been denied benefits given to other nations.

49 Russian diplomats were charged with healthcare fraud after they allegedly lied about their incomes to get health benefits in the US. However, no action has been taken against them.

Some say, Ms Khobragade's case was different as she could only claim consular immunity and not complete immunity.