New York-based organization INOC (I) condemn action by Bharara to refile charges against Khobragade

India not to fight case in court.

By Sujeet Rajan

NEW YORK: As India continue to grapple with the vexatious issue of the re-indictment of Dr. Devyani Khobragade, the former Deputy Consul General of India at the New York Consulate, with the government issuing a statement that it does not intend to fight the case in court here, and the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid terming the action “extremely irksome” but nevertheless that it was important for India and the US to continue with their bilateral ties, a New York-based community organization, The Indian National Overseas Congress (I) USA (INOC), has condemned the action by the Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara to refile charges.

Dr. Devyani Khobragade
Dr. Devyani Khobragade

In an interview to the Press Trust of India in New Delhi, on Sunday, Khurshid urged the US to find a “political solution” to the issue which, according to him, needs a “closure”

“Even at the worst time, I made repeated statements that although it is extremely irksome what has happened and we are convinced that what has happened is wrong and it should not be taken any further, nevertheless this should not impact our larger relationship. But there are practical considerations,” said Khurshid of the re-indictment of Khobragade, after a court had dismissed the first indictment.

“Overall it has an effect and there was very deep sense of hurt here”, said Khurshid, adding, “the court by rejecting the indictment has given you an opportunity to put it behind us so why are we not putting it behind us… They should find a political solution.”

Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), made it clear that the move to refile charges against Khobragade, who is now posted in the MEA in New Delhi, was not taken well by India.

A statement issued by the MEA said: “We are disappointed that the relevant office of the United States Department of Justice chose to obtain a second indictment against an IFS officer, Dr. Devyani Khobragade, despite the fact that the first indictment and arrest warrant were dismissed earlier this week. This was an unnecessary step. Any measures consequent to this decision in the US, will unfortunately impact upon efforts on both sides to build the India-US strategic partnership, to which both sides are committed. As far as India is concerned, we reiterate that the case has no merit. Therefore this second indictment has no impact on our stated position. Now that Dr. Khobragade has returned to India, the Court in the United States has no jurisdiction in India over her. Government will therefore no longer engage on this case in the United States’ legal system.”

The INOC issued a statement lambasting the move by Bharara.

“This came as a shock while our community was celebrating the dismissal of charges against Mrs. Kobragade,” said Shudh Parkash Singh, National President of INOC, an entrepreneur, who is the CEO, JGroup, and President, Kundan & Santosh Jasuja Foundation USA.

“We feel this was an unnecessary act which is going to produce no positive results for the prosecution. Instead it will further strain US – India relationship,” Singh said.

Rajender Dichpally, Chair, INOC Political Council, lauded Khurshid for his handling of the sensitive case, but added the news of the re-indictment has “brought a bad taste between US and India.”

T J Singh Gill, Punjab Chapter President, INOC, said: “We fail to understand why would they spend time and money on a case which cannot yield any results.”

Dr. Raj Bhayani, member of the National Executive Committee, INOC expressed his displeasure over this new development.

“As a fellow Maharashtrian and Indian, it pains me to see the extremely aggressive approach of prosecution against a woman whose case was just dismissed by the honorable judge,” said Bhayani.

Sher Singh Madra, President of Haryana Chapter, INOC, felt the case is “baseless, pointless and sheer wastage of taxpayers’ money.”

Chakot Radhakrishan, Executive Vice President, INOC, demanded the US government to withdraw the case immediately.

New York-based attorney Ravi Batra, who has taken up several cases on behalf of the Indian government – including a case filed against the former Consul General Ambassador Prabhu Dayal – issued a statement which urged caution in attacking Bharara for his action against Khobragade.

“A lightning fast re-indictment on March 14th, within 2 days of a judge’s dismissal, speaks to the Prosecutor’s rebuke of those who misunderstand law and chose to personalize their disrespect, while continuing to seek to hold a person liable for her alleged criminal wrongs. Any and all attacks on the prosecution were wrong in-fact and counterproductive at best, and all those who wish to engage in that mind-numbing sport ought to cease and desist. The legal process deserves respect, especially given the adversarial system of justice – anything less misdirects logic and  proportionality, the hallmark of justice, when forced to function in a river of insults,” said Batra.

Batra also implied in his statement that Khobragade’s defense team has gone about the case in an improper way.

“But, then, Devyani made her most critical error: instead of resolving the criminal charges, with the best possible resolution, including, a non-jail sentence along with an additional civil resolution, she sought an outright dismissal of the criminal charges based upon a mere 1-day full immunity consequence of a G-Visa, which had no retroactive effect of cloaking her. This was nothing short Caesarian hubris, overlaid on legal misdiagnosis and misrepresentation of facts. A trilogy of tragic proportions.”

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