U.S. court will have no jurisdiction over Devyani in India: MEA

After a few weeks when the Indo-U.S. relationship appeared to be getting back on course, the second indictment in New York against diplomat Devyani Khobragade has caused it to slide with New Delhi warning that this action could “impact” bilateral ties.

The government has decided not to engage on this case in the U.S. legal system anymore for, as far as India is concerned, it has no merits.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin described as an “unnecessary step” a U. S. Department of Justice office opting for a second indictment despite the fact that the first, January 9 indictment and arrest warrant were dismissed earlier this week.

“Any measures consequent to this decision in the U.S., will unfortunately impact upon efforts on both sides to build the India-U.S. strategic partnership, to which both sides are committed,” he said. “Therefore, this second indictment has no impact on our stated position.” Now that Dr. Khobragade had returned home, the court in the U.S. would have no jurisdiction in India over her, Mr. Akbaruddin said.

Two days ago, India, in a guarded response, welcomed the U.S. court’s dismissal of fraud charges against Dr. |Khobragade but noted the order did not take into account some aspects of the case that led to a cooling off of bilateral ties for three months.

“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 Dr. Khobragade in December 2013,” Mr. Akbaruddin had said in a written statement.

The arrest and search of Dr. Khobragade on December 12 led to a sharp downturn in Indo-U.S. ties with New Delhi pulling off all extra privileges given to U.S. diplomats and going by the book, asked it to shut down an unlicensed cinema screening facility, removed security bollards and withdrew special airport entry passes.

This was followed by senior government functionaries and politicians declining to meet a bi-party U.S. congressional delegation that came to the country in January.

Officials and political leaders also did not turn up at functions where they would have to share the stage with U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell. When the issue came up in Parliament, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid promised the House that he would get Dr. Khobragade back home.

Earlier this month, structured dialogue restarted with the arrival of the U.S. State Department’s new point person for the region Neha Biswal. This was followed by a week-long Indo-U.S. dialogue on energy.