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An Opportunity to Mend Ties - The Hindu

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3/16/14

An oppor tuni ty to mend ti es - The H i ndu

Opinion » Opinion  » Editorial Published: March 15, 2014 00:39 IST | Updated: March 15, 2014 00:39 IST

n opportunity to mend ties he dismissal of visa fraud charges against India’s former Deputy Consul-General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, oes not mean she has been fully absolved of wrongdoing, but it does provide an opportunity for India and the United States to pursue the path of normalisation in their bilateral relations. The New York District Court did not go into the erits of the charges against her, but decided the matter on the technical ground that she enjoyed diplomatic mmunity after she was accredited to India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. This immunity was acquired uring the pendency of criminal proceedings for allegedly giving false information to procure a visa for her ousekeeper and it was a status that India cloaked her with to avoid a felony trial. India’s refusal to waive her mmunity led to the host country asking her to leave. A fresh indictment, however, is still possible. This means Ms. Khobragade will never be able to return to the U.S., unless she is prepared to face fresh prosecution. India’s guarded eaction — welcoming the outcome but noting that the verdict is silent on the merits of the case as well as the legality  f her unseemly arrest and intrusive body search — indicates that it expects a little more from the United States. By  aying “the government hopes to see further progress in this matter in a manner consistent with international norms nd conventions,” India is seeking a permanent closure of the case. A remark by a State Department spokesman that he U.S. administration is “surprised” by the court ruling is intriguing, as it knew all along that diplomatic immunity  reated a jurisdictional bar on her prosecution. he road ahead for both the countries lies in putting behind the frostiness created by the episode and restoring their igh-level engagement. Both countries understand the need to restore trust and moderation in bilateral relations. The ismissal of her indictment paves the way for this, but there are issues that remain to be addressed. India has to trengthen the principle of reciprocity in dealings with other nations. It needs to devise a code of conduct under which ts officials posted abroad will not violate domestic laws. It needs a policy on consular and diplomatic officials ngaging domestic workers so that there is no room for suspicion of human trafficking. On a wider canvas, the ountry needs legislation to protect domestic workers from under-payment and exploitation. The U.S., on the other and, will have to introspect on its overall approach: its failure to anticipate the fallout of the arrest, the manner of  he arrest he arrest a  and nd its controversial its controversial decision to “evacuate” the family of the maid at the centre of the storm in an obviously  re-emptive re-emptive move. Keywords: Devyani Khobragade, Khobragade, visa fraud case c ase,, U.S. laws, laws, Indo-U Indo-U.S. .S. relations relations,, New York district court, court , diplomatic mmunity , diplomat arrest row 

www.thehind indu.com com/opinio inion n/edito itorial/ rial/a an-op -opportu rtunity ity-to -to-me -mend-tie -ties/ s/a artic rticle le5 5785544.ece? ce?homepage=t ge=tru rue e&css=p css=prin rintt

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