Indian diplomat seeks dismissal of visa fraud case in US

Eurasia News

NEW YORK: The Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has moved a federal court in New York to dismiss the visa fraud case against her, saying there is lack of personal jurisdiction since she had been accorded full diplomatic immunity by the US Department of State, Indian media reported on Saturday.

A four-page “motion seeking dismissal of action for lack of personal jurisdiction” was submitted by Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack with Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York on Thursday.

The lawyer of the Indian diplomat said in his motion that even as the US Department of State fully credentialed Khobragade as a diplomat assigned to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, “additionally and unexpectedly, they have required her immediate departure from the US.”

Khobragade hereby moves this court for a dismissal of this prosecution for a lack of personal jurisdiction now that she has been designated as a diplomat and has acquired immunity.

“The case should be dismissed without necessity of any further hearing or proceedings because Khobragade as a diplomat is entitled to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution in accordance with Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” Arshack said.

This court is clearly deprived of personal jurisdiction of Khobragade by virtue of her diplomatic immunity but nonetheless retains subject matter jurisdiction to hear this motion and dismiss this criminal proceeding,” Arshack said.

The US State department has assured Khobragade that her departure in compliance with their order does not constitute a violation of the terms of her release from the court on bond on the visa fraud and false statements charges she faces.

Daniel Arshack said that since Khobragade has been given diplomatic status, she has “automatically” been vested with diplomatic immunity from criminal liability in the US while she continues to maintain such diplomatic status.

The 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade returned India on Friday from the US after a deal in which she was indicted in New York on charges of visa fraud and making false statements but allowed to leave because of diplomatic immunity.

Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York‚ was arrested on December 12 and charged with one count of visa fraud and another of making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper.

Her arrest and strip-search spurred outrage in India as New Delhi took a series of retaliatory measures against the United States including removing security barriers outside the US embassy in the capital and asking Washington to withdraw a diplomat from its embassy.