HC refuses to issue contempt notice to IFS officer Khobragade’s ex-maid

New Delhi: Delhi High Court today refused to pass any interim order on a plea by Devyani Khobragade, former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York, seeking contempt action against her former housekeeper on whose complaint she was arrested by US authorities on charges of visa fraud.

IFS officer Devyani Khobragade
IFS officer Devyani Khobragade

Khobragade, an IFS officer, was arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and was later released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between US and India, which had retaliated by downgrading the privileges of certain category of US diplomats, among other steps.

Justice A K Pathak refused to pass any interim order and instead listed the matter for hearing on August 7.

Owing to a lawyers’ strike on the last date, the matter was not taken up and listed for hearing on August 31.

Khobragade’s counsel argued that the court’s September 20, 2013 order was being violated by the maid who, with the help of her lawyers in the US, has been filing various documents against her in a court there.

As per the high court’s order, the maid has been restrained “from initiating any action or proceeding or filing any suit or claims against the plaintiff in any court/tribunal /forum in any county outside India with regard to, arising out of or in connection with employment of defendant No. 1 (Sangeeta) with the plaintiff (Khobragade).”

Khobragade has also alleged that the housekeeper was making statements to the media that the IFS officer was trying to force her to come to India by filing cases against her here.

The court, however, did not agree with the lawyer, saying “you are on thin wicket here” and asked why Khobragade wants to “rake it all up”.

The lawyer responded that the IFS officer wants the maid to be stopped from making comments about her or from filing documents in the court there, and prayed that a contempt notice be issued.