Justice in America is the Norm

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who shares the life experiences of the well-to-do, upwardly mobile Indian professional classes, was arrested earlier this month in Manhattan on charges of lying on a visa application about how much she pays her maid, Sangeeta Richard. New York prosecutors claim the maid received only $3 per hour. Additionally, Richard’s husband claims she was kept in slave-like conditions, not allowed to return to India and required to work days not stipulated in her contract.

This has led to a diplomatic row, with India claiming high-handed American treatment against its diplomat and retaliating against American diplomats and facilities in India. The American prosecutor, who by sheer coincidence is of Indian descent, insists Khobragade is being treated fairly, no different from anyone else arrested in Manhattan for similar crimes.

Let us put this event into perspective. America, with all its perceived racial and class-war problems, is one of the few countries where race and class is much less important than in just about any other place. For instance, in America if a high-society rich man is accused of raping a poor immigrant domestic worker, our justice system takes such an alleged crime very seriously. This is untrue in most other countries where class is immensely more important than justice.

For example, recall the recent case against Strauss-Kahn, former director of the International Monetary Fund and possible then-candidate for French president. By any account, Strauss-Kahn was certainly in a high position. But in 2011 he was accused of raping a hotel maid (a charge later dropped for lack of evidence) and thereby arrested and held by American authorities. The French were outraged at the time. They could not understand how America could arrest and hold such a man (meaning a man of high stature) on only the word of a “lowly” maid. Today over two centuries after the French Revolution, a revolution where the French aristocracy met the fury of its people–and the guillotine, the French still treat their privileged as kings.

The Indian authorities, journalists, and pundits, each of whom share Khobragade’s upper-middle-class background and social status, clearly empathize with her, whom they consider one of their own, with little or no apparent concern for the work conditions of her help. Thanks to a society with deeply entrenched inequities, long ago solidified from its age-old caste system, Indian employers routinely ignore that their domestic help even have rights to exercise. Thus the Indian government’s and media’s obvious lack of concern for Richard’s welfare.

Justice is blind, or should be. We Americans have much of which to be proud. Our comparatively egalitarian justice system (although not perfect by any means) is certainly one such item.


84 thoughts on “Justice in America is the Norm

  1. There was an interesting question raised in the Diplopundit site.

    Would the US had done the same thing if she were an UK or Israeli diplomat?

    Well, I had brush with american justice only for a traffic violation. But that was enough.

  2. It is evident you are a rich white guy living in Santa Barbara. You are very out of touch with the realities of race in US culture. Police abuse is rampant, thousands suffer stop and frisk daily in major cities, the prison are filled with non-violent black and brown offenders, wealth and income demonstrate racism in employment. It is amazing how many whites think race is not a big deal, yet African Americans feel like they suffer racial abuse every day — literally.

    • “Justice is blind… we Americans have much of which to be proud” .. This would sound a lot less hypocritical if the US of A and its law enforcement officials had inserted on holding accountable Raymond Allen Davis a CIA “contractor” who shot two men dead in Pakistan and also caused the death of another bystander when a car which dashed to recruit him ran him over. Davis and the US government paid blood money to the victims’ family and were taken aback to US after President Obama insisted Davis enjoyed diplomatic immunity! The Americans fail to see how ridiculous and hypocritical they look in the eyes of the non-White World.


      Two former officers found not guilty in death of Kelly Thomas….
      Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli are acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the 2011 beating death of transient Kelly Thomas.


      Can there be a greater travesty of justice this case? And then there are Americans like Mr. Boxer who extol tne ‘so called’ virtues of the American judicial system .

  3. Pls someone try to understand that the maid Sangeeta Roberts is the main culprit. She used both, the Indian diplomat and US NGO to meet her desire to work in US. It is certainly not a case of mistreatment or overwork which is being discussed about. If Americans come and live in India, it would be easy for them to understand the way Indian society works. The rich and middle class generate most of the jobs for the poor and both the societies coexist without any problems for centuries. Unlike the crime infested ghettos in US populated mainly by discarded black community, India does not have any of such ghettos. The rich support the poor by generating millions of jobs unlike in US. Now, all of a sudden this lady who is certainly far more well to do by already drawing a decent salary of 30000 INR in India apart from whatever minimum in US is not a case of “poor and under privileged” as we all seem to be worrying about. A doctor in Indian government gets almost the same amount. and so a fresh engineer in IT industry in India.
    With no malice against US law system or outrage in India which is certainly a big one and justified understanding the cultural stand in this part of the geography, this issue is all about a maid fooling two countries to get what she always wanted to. I am sure, more than anything, US & Indian governments would have never bargained a maid to come in the relationship of the two largest democracies in the world..

    • In USA, the prosecuting authority is under Department of Justice and the diplomatic matters are under Department of State. DoS can not influence or make DoJ drop a charge made under law because that would be obstruction of justice, a crime by itself! I have this to comment: 1. For the maid, to have aspirations to get the green card one day is NOT a crime! 2. For the maid to strike a hard nosed bargain in return for silence of crimes committed against her ( for which punishment is 15 years in jail and perhaps > $1 Million in compensation )it is NOT a crime. If she had a lawyer, he would have done that for her. Lawyer is not committing a crime 3. If she had gone to the immigration lawyer or INS first, it is not a crime. 4. If she had reported violation of law to the authorities, it is not a crime. 5. If she had run away from home, it is NOT a crime. 6. If she had kept in touch with her husband in India during her missing period, It is NOT a crime. 7. If the husband did not reveal her whereabouts, it is NOT a crime. 6. If she had taken advantage of anti-trafficking statutes of USA, it is not a crime. 7. If she had taken advantage of the Victim & Witness protection programs of Federal Government, either for herself or for her immediate family, it is NOT a crime. At the same time, 1. If the employer had contracted to pay full minimum wages with NO intention to pay the same while asking for A3 visa, it IS a crime. 2..If the employer had kept secret from the authorities about an alternative contract to pay less than minimum wages, it IS a crime. 3. If the employer had not opened a bank account for the maid in USA, it is a violation of law. 4. If the employer deliberately and willfully NOT paid the maid as per min wages by check or e transfer, it IS a crime. 5. If the employer had made the maid to work more than stipulated hours ( as per contract and law) and not paid over time, it IS a crime. 6. If the employer had kept the passport or other documents of the maid with the employer, it is a violation of law. 7. If the employer had intimidated the maid or her family by false charges or court orders, it is an offence of intimidating the employee who blew the whistle. 8. If the employer had publicized on the media her personal information and intimate writings like personal diary with out the consent of the employee, it is a violation of law. Publicizing her maids cheerful photo, or the information that her children called her aunt etc. do not prove that the employer had not committed the crimes/offences/violations of law listed above. Of course the defense lawyer will do every thing to obfuscate the offences and he is being paid for this job. . Is our nation so dumb? Are we so hung up on protecting an IFS officer who committed crimes and dumping an under paid Maid? Why can’t we do some critical thinking?

      • Well said. Post this to some Indian Newspapers websites or I support…… page. Many would have day of reckoning or will throw tamper tantrums.

    • @Global Indian

      Both are guilty but certainly not from the same angle. The “maid” had her godfather at the US Embassy in New Delhi and the “mistress” had her army of supporters at the ministry of external affairs, Govt of India. Finally both got what they deserved.

      I have certainly seen poorer people in the NYC but that is beside the point. We are not saints either but the real story is not about the maid in NYC. It is about US vs India and the reaction is both expected and understandable.

      Yesterday Japan asked for India’s help in resolving the China’s blocking of the airspace. It makes sense, right?

  4. It was really really childish of Indian statesmen to mishandle the case. But don’t forget – it’s an election year! And political mileage has to be derived from everything! This regime has attracted the ire of the public by more or less selling-out on the Nuclear Deal, and the canny political planners cunningly chanced upon this opportunity to make the regime look ferociously opposed to the U.S.! Rather amusing for rational types on both sides to see the hullabaloo over the detention. Too bad if the career of Preet will be affected by the politics over a non state-issue, that’s ultimately going to end up costing India much much more. The U.S. administration rightly feels back stabbed by the Indians on whose insistence they amateurishly incepted & carried on the major fiasco of not recognizing one of India’s leading statesmen, who could now become prime minister. That’s the relational nightmare to worry about – not this junior official’s treatment. Thanks

  5. Robert,

    Your poorly researched article appears very partisan and many views are now coming up quite opposite of what is your world view. In particular the Act of airlifting family of maid while court proceedings in India are underway alarming to extent that American Govt’s understanding of any legal norms can be debated from basics. I would advise you to complete the homework and rewrite the article in case you value and wish to build your credibility .

    • Jaguar,

      Thank you for your comments.

      As I have mentioned to another reader elsewhere, the actual facts of this case are relatively unimportant to the point of this article. Each side in this dispute has made certain assertions, and each side has changed these assertions as time has passed. The emphasis coming from the Indian side currently, for example, is whether or not the consul had diplomatic immunity. This is a far cry from their original assertions that the consul was innocent. The American side too has changed its emphasis, from originally defending its “by the book” handling of this case, to a now more nuanced recognition that this matter with the consul perhaps could have been handled more discreetly. Neither of these changes in emphasis changes the point of my article, however.

      The main point of my article is that in the United States the claims of those with less power against those with more power are taken very seriously. The U.S. legal system has many mechanisms to deal with such claims. This is praiseworthy. In many other countries, the legal claims by the poor and those of low-economic stature are routinely ignored by their legal systems.

      • Mr Boxer,
        I have just replied to you and came back again to further stress my point. Your contention may be right had it been your internal US matter but not in this instance where it becomes international issue. Secondly you seem to ignore the fact that people visiting your blog aren’t completely naïve and ignorant. Hence the best I suggest is to kindly be a bit sensitive and let it rest here alone instead of complicating by leading to unnecessary heat generation. It will spoil the good relations bitterly.

        • Philipine,

          Yes, I agree with you that one must be sensitive to others’ feelings and concerns when engaging in controversial issues, especially when national honor can be at stake (or perceived to be at stake). And, incidentally, I certainly do not feel that the people visiting this blog are naive or ignorant. Far from it. The people who write here, and at other blogs, are generally very well-informed relative to the general population. I am often impressed with the knowledge displayed by the writers of these blog comments. Disagreement should not be confused with condescension.

          Thank you for stressing the point, however. It’s a good point to always remember.

      • Mr. Robert , I would like to know 1- why US did not punish many Russian Diplomats accused of medical insurance fraud . Where was its Fair & Balanced (?) justice system as claimed by
        you 2-How US “evacuated” an Indian citizen with pending cases against her in India. Is it that the US treats all other justice systems as “useless” ? or was she a CIA mole 3 – Why the US govt did not informed the charges against Ms.Devyani & its consequences under the US laws to Indian mission in the US 4 – Why are you silent on the similar offences of the US diplomats posted in
        other countries, on their helps hired in those countries 5 – Why is the US Embassy in India now saying that the Indian staff hired by it is paid as per the local i.e. Indian
        pay scale, when “technically” they are employed on the US territory 6 – Why did the US process visas of Sangitha Richard at such a lightening speed , when many more maids are living in similar conditions across the world & have been under so called slavery , adopted even by the US diplomats of so called savior of human rights. I can write much more, but want Americans like you to understand only one think that ” Indians are not angry because you arrested a diplomat, but because you treated her like a cheap criminal, which could have definitely avoided. Was strip search & cavity search was necessary for a person of diplomatic stature arrested & keep her in cell of prostitutes & petty criminals. This is how you bend & twist the human rights definition & then shamelessly defend your mistake. that too with so called friendly country’s diplomat. You haven’t betrayed to this extent even to your enemies like Iran & noth Korea. Mr Robert I HAD great respect for America & its citizen. May be we are a poor country but were your real friends. But this episode has shattered our belief in the Indo-US friendship. I personally feel that Americans are not all weather friends & that trust worthy. We have lived without your friendship few decades after independence & we can continue without your friendship & technology which you have often refused us (anyways thanks for that, as it forced us to work on projects like cryogenic engine etc.) Your nation suffers from acute shortsightedness & that why it supports rouge nations like Pakistan, which has betrayed & ditched you several times & betrayed a friend like India. WE DON’T NEED YOUR FRIENDSHIP Mr. Robert. We may suffer a short term problem , but we will be able to take care of ourselves, just like we did when you imposed sanctions post nuclear tests.

        • Shashank,

          Thank you for taking the time to write such a meaningful comment. I fully understand that from your point of view these questions deserve an answer. Do remember, however, that many of the issues you are asking are based on premises that not everyone agrees with. And even if one assumes that your premises turn out to be correct, there are still always possible extenuating circumstances where direct comparisons cannot really be made. On the surface, circumstances may appear identical, (such as your point about the Russian diplomat) but in reality they may actually not be the same at all. Perhaps in one case, there were many warnings before action was taken; in the other case, perhaps warnings were heeded immediately so no action was needed. I could go through each of your points and give a view on each one, but I don’t think at this stage it would be very useful. Others reading this may choose to do so, and I welcome that. Also people can easily search online for information about each of the events you mention and attempt to make up their own minds.

          I’ve said this elsewhere and I’ll say it again now. The whole point of my article was that in the United States it is a routine matter that those of lower stature (relative to those with power) are able to get their day in court. This is routinely not true in many other countries. This doesn’t mean, I must add, that you can’t point to any number of instances of injustice in the United States–of course you can. I’m not claiming otherwise. The unfolding facts of this particular case of the Indian consul, however, are not fully germane to my point. At this stage, in terms of this particular incident, I’m an observer like everyone else, waiting for more facts to surface. I can only hope that relations between the United States and the wonderful people of India can get back on track as soon as possible. Let’s just continue to watch and try to see the other side’s point of view whenever we can.

          Again, thank you for writing such a thought-provoking comment.

        • Agree Shashank fully with each one of your points. I feel India and Indians are being unfairly targeted by the US govt as they have done in the past. But this time we will not take this lying down. The Indo-US relationship is in jeopardy for sure. But as you rightly said we can very well do without the US. Although it need not be that way if US takes steps to rectify this wholly self-created situation.

      • HEY WHITE GUY!
        You are assuming that the diplomat in question is guilty. She is
        alleged to have committed fraud. According to US RULE OF LAW a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
        The loud mouthed US Attorney for New York, whether of Indian
        descent or not, should know it instead of trying her in the media to further his ambitions. I am not for off the mark here as it seems it is the common behavior of all US Attorneys of New York.

        Your claim that America is free of racial bias is nonsense. You are a white guy who doesn’t get stopped in New York City unlike the non whites. So cut the crap!

        • Hi Idus,

          What is your point of using the salutation, “White Guy”? Are you implying that the color of one’s skin determines his political views? If so, that is pretty sad.

          Where in my article do I assume the diplomat is guilty, as you state?

          You are correct that in the United States’ legal system, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What does that have to do with an individual’s possible personal opinion about a case? You seem confused on that. Individuals are free to make their own opinion; the American legal system, however, must prove a person guilty.

          Which other U.S. attorneys in New York are you referring to that try suspects in the media? You make a fabulous statement that “all” do. Please name a few.

          Where did I claim that America is free of racial bias? I did claim that in America those of low stature do get their day in court when making charges against those of higher stature.

          You really need to get your facts straight. Especially when you are commenting about something against which anyone can reference (namely, my article here).

          Perhaps there’s a language barrier for you. If so, that’s understandable.

          In any case, you’re a welcome guest here since it’s important for us all to hear all views. Thank you for sharing yours.

        • Mr. Boxer!

          “Perhaps there’s a language barrier for you. If so, that’s understandable”. This shows that you have a tendency to presume!
          To quote Felix Unger “when you presume you make an ass of yourself”

          Be that as it may. Perhaps. my use of White Guy was in reaction to
          your preachy US LAW 101. I agree your views have nothing to do with you being white. However, I do sense a trace of white superiority!

          As for US Attorneys of New York district have tendency to comment publically on their cases. You want names? Here it is: Robert Morganthau, Rudi Juliani, and Eliot Spitzer! Do you believe these comments have no effect on prospective jurors? By the way, I do believe the case of the French President of IMF was dismissed. Correct me if I am wrong.

          I don’t think you have any clue as to why this whole thing has gone out of hand. Perhaps, your US centric thinking prevents you from understanding the nuances of the situation.

          Let me explain. I do not know who is guilty or not. Neither do I believe the parties involved will not get fair hearing in the US court. I do have a problem with prosecutorial misbehavior and overreach. Perhaps I watch too much Law & order on TV!

          The whole mess is due to the strip and cavity search of an Indian woman who happens to be a diplomat. Given the angry mood of Indian public towards molestation of woman, they see the strip and cavity search of an Indian as legalized rape by American authorities.

          To add, Indian public sees this as a deliberate insult to India!

          The Indian government had no choice but to get tough with US. I am sure it must have come as surprise to the US government! Is it any wonder the US Attorney of New York is keeping quiet! Mr. Holder must have told him to shut his trap!

          No Indian government will back down now, with the election coming in may.

          The US relationship with India is doomed all because of the ham handed was the whole thing was handled.

          If a Chinese diplomat was handled this way, Mr. Bharar and Mr. Kerry would be running to Beijing to apologize.

          Here is a point for you to ponder. If the situation was reversed, America would have bundled the diplomat out of India in a moment!
          Talk of hypocracy!

          Have a Good One!


          P.S Do you think they strip and cavity searched Bernie Madoff? No language problem here. As one who dropped out law school I do know what rule of law is! A Harvard Law degree does not prevent stupidity! As Art Buchwald said “You can send an ass to university to become an educated ass, but it is still an ass!”

        • Idus,

          I hate to say this but you come across as one angry fellow. And there does appear to be some sort of language barrier. I take it from your writing that English is not your native language. If so, perhaps I am not understanding your nuances. But you’re saying a lot of strange things.

          It was you who quoted the law to me (incorrectly), and I corrected you. Is this what you mean as preachy? And didn’t your “white guy” comment precede this? If so, how can it be a reaction to it? No matter!

          You moved the goal post concerning the New York attorneys. Earlier it was “all” of them. Now it’s only a “tendency.” If that’s what you are now complaining about, well, yes, some U.S. attorneys do make a lot of noise. So what?

          And, yes, the case against the IMF official was dismissed. This seems to bother you. Do you have some inside information about his guilt or innocence?

          As far as the Indian diplomat is concerned, she was not raped. She was subjected to the same treatment as everyone else. The U.S Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that all offenses are subject to strip search. Real rape is what we all should be concerned about, especially for you since it is such a grave problem in India. Again, being strip-searched after an arrest is not a rape.

          The Indian public may, indeed, as you say, consider this an insult to India, but the Indian public is wrong to feel this way. No insult was intended. And as you point out, much of this has been hyped-up because of India’s upcoming elections. Americans are insulted all the time by many countries. But we don’t go removing security from the embassies of those countries doing the insulting. Indeed, even during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, we fully protected the Iranian diplomats in the United States. India made a huge mistake by removing the security protection–very childish and dangerous actually. Many Americans now think much less of India because of it. But we Americans also are very forgiving, and no doubt we will forget all about this whole episode not too long from now.

  6. The maid had a good position relative to her opportunities, and is taking advantage. She’s smart, unlike the people who believe she is a victim, based on their own elitist opportunities.

  7. Robert,

    I am afraid I will have to answer you down below:

    I will try and rebut your contentions point by point. (Excuse the delay in replying as I was busy with my writing work)

    1. There is absolutely no dichotomy in my thoughts. When I said it is there for the world to see – I meant the details which I furnished in my Allvoices report on Devyani getting the UN accreditation and the relevant Sections mentioned therein. When I said it will come out in the open, I meant the US will after it verifies the matter finally acknowledge that she did indeed enjoy diplomatic immunity. Hence both the statements are valid in my opinion.

    2. Your second point. Why should I debunk the link you gave. We all know that India has taken steps to get Devyani diplomatic immunity from the UN. Besides it is there all over the web. What is there to disagree about it? But I still don’t understand why you should make such a big deal out of the latest immunity thing. Even if it is as you say at the 11th hour or 12th hour that India discovered she already had the immunity, what is there to be skeptical or suspicious about it? (Or are you disappointed she has immunity?)

    It is quite possible India might have overlooked the matter since the UN assembly meet is already over. But tell me are we fools to brazenly invent a UN accreditation? Besides how come the US Marshals went about publicly handcuffing the diplomat as if she was a hardened criminal and the rest? Was it not their job to also do their homework well and find out if she had diplomatic immunity or not. The UN is located in New York not Timbuctoo!!! Why the tearing hurry to carry out the whole exercise, unless there was a hidden agenda behind it?

    3. You also wrote about America merely enforcing its laws with regard to Devayani’s so-called visa fraud…well then what about Indian courts enforcing its laws…when summons were issued to Sangeeta Richards by the Indian court after her passport was revoked sometime back in Sept. why was she not sent back? You expect us to respect your legal procedures while your country blatantly disregards our court orders…and your diplomat in Delhi helps in taking away the lady’s family to the US. Why are we a banana republic?

    It was in this context I dubbed your nation the ‘great America’ because of some Americans’ tendency to look down upon developing nations patronizingly. You got to be in our shoes to understand why we are now reacting to the US in this manner. And if you want us to respect your courts and laws then you must do the same for ours too. With all its flaws, India is still a democracy. Policy should be give respect and take respect. It cannot be one sided.

    4. Coming to the point about what if she indeed had diplomatic immunity then the US owes Indians a public apology and not just dropping of legal charges. Yes the strip search does bother us because for Indians it’s a big deal. How can you measure outrage, what is outrage for you may not be for us and vice versa. I am well aware it was done by a female officer but does not make it any less humiliating. What about the public handcuffing …just where was the need for that? Was she some hardened criminal? The problem with you guys is when in trouble throw the rule book at those asking questions but these strict rules of yours we know very well are not applied uniformly to all nations.

    E;gs: http://www.policymic.com/articles/65245/saudi-princess-who-may-have-kept-a-slave-in-california-goes-free


    • Fully agree with your sentiments. I was just thinking of these cases you quoted here at the bottom. It might be one more case of US justice recently killed by a white Hispanic fellow who was not only released fully of all charges of murder but was enen returned his gun. Obama had also said, “Gloomily, I could have been him”! Where was the US justice then???

      • You hit the nail on the head. And who can forget how fat cats on wall street got away with robbing the working classes of their savings and investments? Why no Lehman Brothers director was arrested? Powerful banksters were never touched. With all the witch hunt, I have started to believe this diplomat will never get a free trial in US courts.

    • Nina, It breaks my heart when I see banner saying “Don’t Humiliate our sister” Isn’t Mrs Richard also not our sister? Are you angry because it is our motherland’s diplomat or a woman (since here victim and accused both are women and they are of our own. Those who followed the incident from the beginning are most of from our motherland and our own) Whose dignity is/was at stake? I grew up in India and believe me i have climbed the steps of of Indian courts holding finger of my lawyer father as a child. I am ashamed of what our elites do to our poor people, even as a grown up man I have seen reputations of these behaviors and found myself helpless.
      To win the argument you would be all right. To achieve much better out come then what Americans may be bragging about we have lot of homework and soul searching to do.
      Just revisit what Lord Buddha, M. K. Gandhi said and many monuments of our heroes we brag about.

      • Let us stick to the facts of the case and the fact is Sangeeta Richards misused her position to exploit Khobragade. Period.

  8. This is not entirely true. Lindsay Lohan, Busch are samples to debunk your theory. Rich and powerful will always escape, and continue to abuse the justice system everywhere.

  9. I liked your analysis. However, Indian news sources indicate that the consul was from the “scheduled caste” which apparently refers to the “untouchables”. Of course, it is clear that in terms of wealth she is upper middle class.

    • What about Sangeeta Richard? She is being allegedly backed by some dubious NGO, US has plenty of such Christian NGOs and I won’t be surprised if the controversial great USCIRF is involved in her entire drama. Why did US grant Richard illegal T1 Visa to her and T2/3 visa to her family to elope to US??? One shouldn’t be selective…!!! Can we discount the Christian factor operative behind “Richard”? Her father-in-law was employed as a driver by one US retired consular staff, who is said to have been instrumental in getting this drama enacted. Lot of beans are spilling out. US justice system is so just that volumes can be written…

      • How granting T-visa is illegal? Mrs Richard is christian way before she got the job and remained to her faith to date. What about counselor officials father using his bureaucratic muscles, connections and lobby?

  10. Consider the following hypothetical scenario: A Mexican is being paid below the minimum wage by his employer for work on a farm. American prosecutors go over to Mexico, fetch three relatives of the employee to US on paid tickets, promise these three relatives and the employee Green cards (Permanent US residence) and then go after the employer because he violated the minimum wage law.

    It sure would be a case of an extremely hyperactive prosecution.

    There are other mitigating explanations for the situation of the maid – her being a family-embedded employee in India and it certainly is a gray area. Application of home country laws to diplomats has always been a gray area. Many diplomats all over the world have been declared persona-non-Grata and asked to be withdrawn. But this is a case of a hyperactive prosecution – apparently pursuing some vendetta – may be – it appears. And that’s the main underlying rub.

    • Of course there are…!!! Ipso facto, US would have got away with, but for the election hysteria in India and UPA/Congress being on back foot. US has two immediate problems that might be operative briefly: 1. US is passing thru a very difficult economic ebb and trogh phase. They hoped that India could have given them a bigger pie in their share of business but failed. This anger including FDI, may be one. 2. US is now on the eve of their departure from Af, where they expect India to show more participation tobail US out happily without any concern for Indian sensitivity. US has been secretely even supplying Pak weapons that will be used against India, but US justice has no egalitarian shame when it comes to US unitary interests. Recall the extradition of David Headley or even giving India access to him. This is US justice. God bless American (in)justice.

  11. Robert:
    Nice analysis. If US digs more in her husband’s tax filings, I doubt if he had included her inherited assets and paid taxes for the same, if filed as married filing jointly. A good case for IRS.

    • And if Robert digs more deeper into how much the maids and assistants are paid by the US diplomats in Indian embassies, the truth about the so-called fair US wage scales will also come out into the open.

      In fact I believe this will be a “great opportunity for the US to take a stand and show the world that it (truly) cares about the poor and downtrodden in other nations” including India.

      • Have not heard that US is already making up stories on the wages of Indian staffs employed in US Embassy in India? Now US says, “They pay the local employees as per the local paying circumstances, what an audacious escape route? I don’t understand, “Who are they fooling around”?

      • In 1978, I visited Plant of Pfizer in Mumbai as student. Their plant was extraordinary in all aspects of science, technology, administration, cleanliness, hygiene and their treatment of employees that was way above comparison to Indias top 10 indigenous employers and below EXCEPT TATA. What I observed exceptional was their cafe. Food was beating five star hotel. Gatekeeper who opens and close the door at the entrance of plant advised me to apply for the job since he himself was paid INR 3000, IN 1978.
        We would look like a teenager who is fighting for a spite, If we really have plans to go after Embassy.
        US may be on decline by our own belief and euphoria, but to date they would more than comply with your demand that you have waived yourself until now.
        First time in 66 years of Independence we have receptive relations with all super powers: Russia, China, UK, EU. What we are going to do, spoil it for a spite?

  12. I completely agree with Robert. Actually to me this was a lost opportunity.

    This was a great opportunity for India to take a stand and show the world that it cared about its poor and downtrodden and not just the elite of the elite – the rich businessmen and the powerful bureaucrats – who have sucked this country dry and who live beyond the laws and rules. Laws are made for the common man and not the IAS or IFS officer. Every day we see thousand examples of this as even a mid-level bureaucrat will have some assistant check him in at the airline counter and whisk him to the aircraft without the customary security screening and when this same bureaucrat is returning home from a trip abroad perish the thought that he stand in line at the immigration counter. No he does not even deign to hand in his passport which his minion does while he frowns and looks at his watch several times to indicate his annoyance at being made to wait the 40 seconds that it takes the immigration officer to find an empty space in the passport.

    This past fall Delhi woke up to the news headlines that a maid in Vasant Kunj had been tortured. “Stringent rules to curb torture needed” screamed the headlines at the Indian Express. Several spokespersons from various NGOs were up in arms about the treatment that was being meted out to this poor girl from Jharkhand. Vandana Dhir the accused in that case was however does not belong to the elite club – she was a mere professional working in a multinational firm and her further misfortune was that she was not in Delhi when the girl was rescued. Would she have been able to “MANAGE” the situation had she been present in Delhi? I do not have an answer but if I was a betting man I would bet that she would have. Anyhow I digress. The point I want to make here is that the same people who were on the screaming talk shows of India shouting using their lung powers to the fullest were completely silent regarding the Indian maid in New York. Instead of focusing on the real issue that here was a supposedly responsible member of society who had probably defrauded a poor and certainly not well educated women and exploited her and condemning her in the harshest terms, the intelligentsia of this country found a very large red herring – the US government. Every day the newspapers talked about some new motive and assigned it to the prosecutor and the US government the latest being from the diplomat’s father who said that the maid was a CIA operative. Really? I am amazed that on the one hand you accuse the CIA of recruiting a maid and on the other hand you identify them as the agency that does incalculable evil. Thank God that the CIA recruits maids and other poor folks to do what they do – can you imagine what would happen if they were to recruit Engineers, Doctors, MBAs and lawyers.

    As the days have gone by the newspapers have moved on to other sensational stories and I am quite sure that behind the scenes the government will do what it can to bring this situation to a close with no collateral damage.

    We must also remember that her father is a senior bureaucrat – who incidentally has also had his share of having his name linked with some interesting scams – Adarsh Housing society – does that ring a bell with any of you that are tom-tomming US hypocrisy. Also the oh so innocent Devyani owns a flat in that housing society that was meant for Indian soldiers and has not yet explained to the government how she got the money to pay for it.

    Shame on India and shame on all you Indians who are trying to defend the indefensible.

    • I will say shame on US diplomats and all the Americans embassy officials and families who have been using all the perks and privileges bestowed upon them by the Indian govt till date. How come not one of the so-called righteous Americans not reject those perks and say give us only those privileges which are given to the Indian diplomats and their families in the US. If this does not reek of double standards what does?

      • As an ordinary Indian, I am sorry to say that the Indian Government is giving the American Embassy employee more than they ask for. All the privileges which are removed are given by Indian Government without being asked for. It is simply that the Embassy people are deprived of the privilege which the Indian Government has given to them which are not asked for!
        Forgetting about the maid harassment and other issues, US Government also should have shown decency in handling the case. A very good example is in the case of Ms Malala of Pakistan. When she was shot and need treatment outside Pakistan, US have offered transportation to the Government of Pakistan. An American Contractor (Not related to embassy/consulate) who has recently shot two Pakistani dead inside Pakistan was declared immune by the US Government; the Pakistan Government was at no liberty to accept the offer of Air Transport by the US Government for Ms Malala.
        As such, international concern should be taken more seriously, should be handled by people more knowledge than Marshals.

        • Blaming Marshals unilaterally – could it not be too simplistic? They couldn’t have done so without the full knowledge of the American Brown who must have been in close touch with US Home as well as State Depts. At least Kerry is in the knowledge from June 2013 as alleged since Richard disappeared from her nanny job and got a T1 visa to give her a legal status for Human Trafficking. Now, I see a group of people are active on the line to try to involve people in the name of abolishing Human Trafficking. This is obviously Khobragade Effect.

  13. Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor in Lahore, Pakistan – could have faced the death sentence. Instead he was brought home without trial. Then senator John Kerry went to Pakistan to appease its anger. The
    Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor in Lahore, Pakistan – could have faced the death sentence. Instead he was brought home without trial. Then senator John Kerry went to Pakistan to appease its anger. The US media managed to contain its outrage on his victims.

  14. I find it really amusing to read this report. According to Mr. Boxer the entire bunch comprising of the Indian authorities, journalists, and pundits are wrong including most of the Indian public. They – according to Boxer – ALL share Khobragade’s upper-middle-class background and social status and so empathize with her.

    Can anything be more ridiculous than this? It seems like some kind of a twisted logic to me. I don’t think I even need to go any further on the report. The premise itself is faulty.

    As Aymaan rightly said there is more to this than meets the eye, no wonder the US govt. was in a tearing hurry to grant some kind of a T20 visa to the maid’s family and whisk them out of a foreign country, even when a legal case was pending against them.

    I think America ought to be ashamed of this devious act and its citizen’s supporting this kind of behavior, no wonder Snowden has now exposed all their covert activities.

      • I came here on your request in the Indian medium where you posted your link requesting to visit. I’m sorry to be “highly” disappointed, with, 1. Ur deceptive caption I feel is incendiary and parochial. 2. The brief content in very few limited words as describing a quarrel between two small kids. This is further humiliating Mr Boxer. Sorry but I think you wanted the other side of your “egalitarian US justice”. This is called big daddyism in my words. Highly unjust. I would also like you to read my comments here and let me know, your views. Thanks and regards…

        • Hi Philipine,

          Thank you for taking the time to express your differing opinion. I appreciate it.

          If you reread my original post, you’ll find that one of my main points was that in the United States, unlike in most corners of the world, the lowest rungs of society are not routinely ignored in favor of the rich. This statement doesn’t mean that I think there aren’t injustices in the United States. Of course there are. My point is that in America, everyone can get his day in court. Simply because a person is of less means, doesn’t prevent him from challenging the word of a rich person in court. Our legal system takes very seriously charges filed against everyone. Again, however, this doesn’t mean there are no injustices.

          Arguing about the details of the Indian consul’s arrest was not my original intention here. Many have different views on the details of this case, and we need to let the details play themselves out.

          I am very loose here with moderating the comments on this site. As long as people are polite (such as you; you are very polite, and I appreciate it), people can say here whatever they wish. Opposing views are totally welcome. Please don’t feel slighted if I do not respond to every comment you make, especially if the comment is replying to someone else’s comment. Often the various points people make don’t require a response. If you direct a response to me specifically, however, I will surely respond though.

          Again, thanks for your input, Philipine.

        • Mr. Boxer, thanks for your kind reply and I’m honoured by your compliments. I’m equally impressed with your style of reply and that’s the reason I got back. With the complex nature of this case, “May I recommend that it should better be left alone without raking it up further to make it more passion rousing tool. We should let both the official machinaries in US-India deal it peacefully. I have tried to follow it painstakingly on the available media and feel that it’s best left alone. I leave it to you for your kind and prudent judgement. I must admit that US has messed up a small matter unnecessarily. Now, both are engaged in a war of words online. Needless…

  15. I am an Indian. I completely agree with the legal action taken by US on the issue of (a) “Visa Fraud” by Devjani and (b) The slave wage that she gave to her maid. India rather should have taken steps against Devjani. I am sorry my own country didn’t took proper steps rather victimize the victim (her maid). Thanks to US for doing right thing. Does not matter how important she is nobody should be allowed to bend the Laws and also nobody had any right ( including consul) to abuse a human being. She should right fully put in jail in proved. Consular protection logically should not be applied here.

    • 1. How do you know a ‘slave wage’ was being given to the maid ? ….. what the maid was being paid is in dispute.
      2. How do you know, the maid is not trying to take advantage – like in the Strauss Kahn case ?
      3. Could this issue not have been handled more “diplomatically” – instead of practically going to war with friendly country. This complex of moral-superiority is what makes the US one of the most unpopular countries in the world.

      There are so many issues which the US, like this author, has gotten wrong – it’s not even a joke.

      • These are the allegation put forward by US attorney office based on evidence ( her signed visa request papers etc) . Of course every allegation ( Visa Fraud, slave wage etc) need to be proven in Court of Law. But for that purpose she need to bring in court and that’s why she need to be arrested by Police to bring her in front of court of Law. Whether its is Strauss Kahn type case or a fabricated case court will decide based on evidence and witness.

        b) Why it need to be handled “diplomatically” ? Is because she is a rich Indian Lady with a influential Father? Does she is immune to Law ? From where she got the right ??? Just because she work in consulate does she is entitled to do anything ? Ok that’s may happen in India..not in US. Here everybody is same in the eye of Law.

        • US is the biggest hipocrite. Charulatha is one cashew nut that jumps to conclusion very fast. What ever may be the crime be, she is an dimplomat representing 1.2billion low life living beings. She doesnt deserved to be treated the way she was treated, even the US has expressed concern over the arrest. If every one is same for US, then start reading about raymond davis case in pakistan. You might be in US but your are not Completely aware of US.

        • Bala I don’t live in US. I live in India. By the way don’t divert the discussion. Raymond Davis case did happened in Pakistan not on US soil. Devjani case happened on US soil where everyone is same in the eye of Law and everybody will be strip searched if needed. Also the way US handled the Raymond case may be not the right way, but does it demand that India will follow the same path ? No.

        • Bala she (Devjani) does not represent me and other 1.2 billion common simple law abiding Indians. She represent a tiny opportunist immoral section of our Indian society: the corrupt rich, the influentials, the law breaker, the stealer, and the thugs. She also does not represent Bhagat Singh, or Mahatma Gandhi or Rabindranath Tagore or Vivekananda. She represent the small sections of the looters of Indian Society.

    • How did you construe that Indian Govt knew and allowed her deliberately? In fact, it should have been the duty of US Govt to inform of such irregularity/arrest of their Diplomat, where US completely failed. Lastly in such international sensitive matters, especially when US (dubiously) calles India her “strategic partner”, it should have been more imperative to do so. Alas, unlike Russia, India doesn’t have as Nukes and Drones to command the respect of Big Daddy. I won’t say shame to you, I understand the psychology of few people like you in the West.

  16. Article 48 of the Vienna Convention for Consular Officers. It allows Devayni to hire a private servant who is an Indian citizen and pay her as per Indian wage laws. Social Security in India includes minimum wage by law.

    Click to access 9_2_1963.pdf


    Article 48
    Social security exemption
    1.Subject to the provisions of paragraph 3 of this article, members of the consular post with respect to services rendered by them for the sending State, and members of their families forming part of their households, shall be exempt from social security provisions which may be in force in the receiving State.
    2.The exemption provided for in paragraph 1 of this article shall apply also to members of the private staff who are in the sole employ of members of the consular post, on condition:
    (a) that they are not nationals of or permanently resident in the receiving State; and
    (b) that they are covered by the social security provisions which are in force in the sending State or a third State.
    3.Members of the consular post who employ persons to whom the exemption provided for in paragraph 2 of this article does not apply shall observe the obligations which the social security provisions of the receiving State impose upon employers.
    4.The exemption provided for in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article shall not preclude voluntary participation in the social security system of the receiving State, provided that such participation is permitted by that State.

    • Devyani Khobragade is an Indian diplomat, not a consul. So it is unclear whether Article 48 of the Vienna Convention for Consular Officers applies in this case.

      But even if it does apply, United States domestic labor laws would trump any less protective international laws. For example, if a foreign diplomat’s (or consul’s, for that matter) home country permits slave labor, that would certainly not trump U.S. anti-slavery laws. (The United States settled that question 150 years ago during its Civil War.) And the U.S. Supreme Court has often circumscribed U.S. responsibilities under international obligations, meaning, at least for those in America–citizen or not–the final say is with the U.S. Supreme Court and the laws of Congress. If this were not the case, the U.S. Supreme Court would have no say in the matter, but they do.

      • Are you aware of the Raymond Davis case – the American who shot dead 2 unarmed innocent men in Pakistan ? American hypocrisy is clearly evident – if you do honestly review the details of the case.

        Also – do you know what US Senators & Congressmen pay their interns ? ….$1 & $0 per hour. Against the rules of ‘internship’ – they are made to work full time – and do tasks not allowed under internship rules. Point it – US Lawmakers are themselves guilty of gross hypocrisy. Is this not ‘slavery’ ?


        • Since Raymond Davis was working for the CIA at the time, I’d have to know more about why he killed the two men. If the killing was in the line of duty, there is nothing hypocritical about America’s protecting its agents. Pakistan is not a reliable American ally. Recall that Pakistan hid Bin Laden from America for many years; America captured and killed Bin Laden with no official help from Pakistan. I have very little confidence in official words that come from Pakistan.

          Concerning Congressional interns, there really isn’t a comparison here. Students clamor for these intern jobs to gain life experiences and to pad their resumes. Most would pay their own money for the opportunities gained as interns. One can cite other examples of this. Doctors in residence spend 48 hours straight working sometimes as part of their training. They don’t get paid with money at all. It’s all experience gained. How about older women volunteering at hospitals. Should they get paid?

          You are trying to find equivalences where none exist. Ms. Richard, the diplomat’s domestic help, is not trying 1) to gain life experience from her job, 2) to learn a new trade, or 3) to volunteer her time. She’s working as a real employee. In America, we have wage laws. It’s as simple as that. If Ms. Richard was paid less than minimum wage, laws were broken. And if diplomat Khobragade lied on her visa about how much she paid her help, much worse laws were broken.

          To take this whole incident with Khobragade as a slight against India is really a shame. In America, many of our rich and famous have gotten themselves into trouble too by, for example, not declaring taxes properly for their domestic help. In fact, two Clinton administration cabinet nominees had to withdraw their names after it became known that they hadn’t declared their domestic help properly. Events like this happen all the time. Khobragade is not being singled out! She’s only being investigated just like anyone else accused of the same crimes.

        • I find it interesting that at this late hour India is claiming Khobragade had diplomatic immunity. Doesn’t it make sense that if she had had such immunity, India would have said so immediately after her arrest, not weeks later? In fact, just four days ago, India was still attempting to have Khobragade accredited at the UN, which, if granted, would give her a new status that includes diplomatic immunity. Why would India have gone to the trouble to get her this status if she already had it? See here: (http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-approves-india-39-request-accredit-diplomat-183913049.html).

          If, however, it does turn out that she did all along have diplomatic immunity, I’m sure her arrest will immediately become void–and that would be the end of it. We’ll have to find out first if there is any merit to India’s 11th-hour claim. U.S. authorities are looking into this now.

          Again, this whole incident is not a slap against India. It’s America enforcing its laws. Those Indian nationals who see this incident otherwise, should really take another look at the facts.

        • What do you mean India is claiming….it is there for all to see and will definitely come out in the open soon. Surely India cannot invent such a thing.

          Also what do you mean “if it does turn out that she did all along have diplomatic immunity, I’m sure her arrest will immediately become void–and that would be the end of it.”

          Why should it be the “end” of the matter ….Is it because it is the great United States of America. Should there be no punishment to your nation for publicly handcuffing our diplomat and then strip searching and throwing her into a cell with drug addicts?

          If an Indian diplomat commits a so-called crime then she is liable for punishment whereas if US authorities do the same the matter is dropped. Wow ….(smirk). Shows the patronizing attitude of not just the US but even some of its citizens as well.

        • Nina,

          I can respond validly only to facts. First, in referring to what India is claiming, you state “it is there for all the world to see,” but in the next breath you say, “it will come out in the open soon.” Both of these two thoughts cannot be true at the same time. But no matter. I’m sure you were just making your point, and that’s fine.

          If you wish to counter what I said earlier, you might start by debunking the link I included, which showed India taking steps a few days ago to first grant diplomatic status to Khobragade. Is this report untrue? It seems to be public record that India did do this. If so, why, if Khobragade already had diplomatic immunity? You also don’t have a response to why India waited so long to make its latest claim. Perhaps you can do so now. I welcome your opposing views.

          Gratuitous attacks against the “great United States,”–and the United States is indeed great, no apologies necessary!–are not arguments. But to answer your question, if it turns out that she had diplomatic status all along, the United States would do what all legitimate legal systems would do–drop the charges. Indeed, in this case the charges would be more than dropped; they would be void. Not sure why that seems to bother you.

          You also seem to have an inflammatory view of Khobragade’s arrest. The word “strip-search” keeps coming up. I can assure you that her arrest was done appropriately and by the book. Her so-called strip-search was no doubt conducted by female guards simply to check for weapons or other banned items. Nothing out of the ordinary was done and no insult was intended. Any images you may have in your head of her being paraded around for the amusement of male guards is purely fiction. She was treated with total respect.

          Your final paragraph really makes no sense. U.S. authorities are not doing the same, as you state. The U.S. authorities, if it turns out had arrested her while she had immunity, are not guilty of any crime, unless they did this knowingly. No one is making that claim, not even India.

        • I repeat I want to know what the UN says about any country violating the rules of accreditation granted to an UN adviser…in the specific case Devyani Khobragade….Wish some one would enlighten me on this. After all no country should be above the law of UN.

        • Nina,

          The United Nations is a world body where, as you know, nations come together with the hope of solving world problems of war and peace. Its laws are enforced primarily by non-military international pressure. At times, when the stakes are high and there is general agreement, it decides to use force, such as recently against Libya. Any one of the five permanent Security Council members can veto such action.

          But to talk about whether countries are “above the law” in terms of United Nations’ rules is somewhat of a misnomer. No country, in particular the United States, has ever ceded its own laws to those of the United Nations. In America, the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land. The United States’ relationship to the United Nations is similar to its treaty relations to other countries.

          This relationship to the United Nations is not unique to America. Indeed, India in 1998, in relation to its Pokhran-II nuclear test, completely ignored relevant United Nations resolutions which had condemned India’s (and Pakistan’s) nuclear testing and had called for further testing to cease. India, at the time, clearly felt it was in its own interests to ignore these United Nations resolutions. And I don’t believe the United Nations levied any significant penalty against India over this.

          My point is that countries will do what they deem is in their own interests. And, getting back to the issue at hand–the Indian consul’s arrest–it appeared (and still appears) to U.S. authorities that Ms. Khobragade, at the time of her arrest, did not have diplomatic immunity. If this was an incorrect conclusion made by U.S. authorities, then this whole event might have been averted if either Ms. Khobragade or India’s government had made a timely immunity claim. But this did not happen. You seem to be blaming the U.S authorities for not just assuming she did have such immunity, against all evidence available to the contrary. But, again, the U.S. authorities did not find that she had such immunity. And, indeed, it appears today that she actually does not.

        • Well, we will see whether Ms. Khobragade has diplomatic immunity or not due to her UN status. We don’t have to go by the US view or any American citizen’s view on that, since obviously it your country which is pursuing this case.

      • Mr Boxer, why have been selective and scurting the points you conveniently want to avoid. You have that Saudi Arabian Royal (said to be) family fellow keeping one Egyptian lasy slave for years, yet your no egalitarian US law could hold him back. Do you consider it out of US Law?

        • Even if i argue like Indian elite, this do not hold ground. First of all Saudi price is almost sovereign by birth, way way above even Ambassador and ministers and can’t be prosecuted in foreign land. We do not have princess here.
          Why not look at our tiny neighbor: Mauritius who waived Immunity of an Ambassador so that justice be done.
          Are we really that low?

  17. Quite true Robert. Being an indian, I can say with some certainty that the real outrage is due to the fact that this arrest was on complaint of a domestic help who are pretty much invisibles in India. Back in her home country, it would be unimaginable for Devyani to be arrested for anything short of murder in daylight.

    • I’m sorry dear, those days back home are a history. Yes, our societal system is pathetic but I’m well aware that lot of bigwigs have paid the hard price, when ensnared. See the success of AAP and how UPA is shivering??? Of course we need to go a long way but you need a lot more insight in global politics. Had this UPA Govt not been panting for her breath, even this uproar won’t have taken place. Read how US is surprised at the Indian outrage? Thank God that congress is also feeling the heat that this outrage is nothing but congress’ vote bank politics. US misread it.

  18. There is more to this case than meets the eye. It is not mere American justice that applies here. There are lot of instances where Indians have been treated shabbily by the US. Thanks for this report.

  19. Robert , You posted a very clear and understandable article on your Insights . Justice in America. Although Justice is not perfect, it is certainly better here than in any of the other countries. What a joy to be living in the USA. We are very lucky to have freedom to express ourselves. Pearl Boxer

    • American freedom is being strangulated by it’s volumes upon volumes of “RULES”, and the complete inflexibility with them. Add to that the NSA surveillance revelations – the “freedom” you love is further diluted.

      American airports are a torture – because of ridiculous sets of “rules”.

      American schooling is suffering tremendously – again, because of stranglehold of “American Rules” – and the US kids are falling faaar behind progressive Asian countries.

      I could give many more examples.

      Yes, certainly be proud of US. But please be real too. Do not let blind patriotism blind you to the massively wrong direction this country is heading.

    • Thanks for your opinion, but I don’t see the double standard to which you are referring. Indian diplomat Khobragade’s maid as a resident of the United States is subject to U.S. employment laws, with rights guaranteed by the U.S. government. In contrast, those passengers on the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73 who were not Americans were not the ultimate responsibility of the United States. The United States government after finally having persuaded Libya to pay compensation for its downing the flight was representing its own citizens–American citizens. I don’t believe that India (or any other country) was party to that suit.

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