India has welcomed a U.S. court’s decision to dismiss visa fraud charges against diplomat Devyani Khobragade, noting, however, that the order has not taken into account some aspects of the case that led to a cooling off of bilateral ties for three months.
“We welcome this ruling, which dismisses the January 9 indictment of Khobragade and vacates any arrest warrant in the existing case,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in a written statement.
“We note that the judgment does not consider the merits of the case or our well-known position, including on the admissibility of the arrest of Devyani Khobragade in December 2013. Given the importance both sides attach to their bilateral strategic partnership, [the] government hopes to see further progress in this matter in a manner consistent with international norms and conventions.”
Dr. Khobragade was arrested on December 12 outside her children’s school. The U.S. refused her diplomatic immunity on the grounds that she was a consular employee. From the post of Deputy Consular General of India in New York, she was then transferred to the Indian mission in order to qualify as a full diplomat in the eyes of the U.S. State Department. The court passed its ruling on this aspect, stating that as of January 9, she was a full diplomat and therefore entitled to immunity.
Earlier in the day, the MEA came out with a guarded response, but this was amplified later in the day.
“We have seen the judgment related to the indictment. It is good as far as it goes,” Mr. Akbaruddin had said when news broke of the case being dismissed by the U.S. District Court at the Southern District of New York.
India qualified its welcome because though the suit against Dr. Khobragade was dismissed, under U.S. laws, prosecutors are allowed to bring fresh charges in future.
News agencies quoted the diplomat’s father, Uttam Khobragade, as saying, “They tried to trap Devyani with a false complaint against her. I thank the Indian government and Indians for their cooperation and help. She will go back to America with full diplomatic immunity.”