The government has questioned the integrity of IFS officer Devyani Khobragade, accusing her of hiding the fact that her daughters carried US passports, signaling fresh trouble for the diplomat whose arrest had threatened to derail India’s ties with the United States.
“Devyani willfully violated government rules and provisions of various acts that bar holding of US passport and Indian diplomatic passport for her daughters,” the ministry of external affairs has told the Delhi high court.
The ministry, in its affidavit submitted last week, also questioned Khobragade’s integrity, her credibility as a witness and an Indian government representative, sources said.
The affidavit was filed in response to the court issuing a notice to the ministry on Khobragade’s daughters’ pleas challenging revocation of their Indian passports.
In case, Khobragade had difficulty in obtaining US visa for her two daughters, she should have “brought the matter immediately to her employer, MEA, rather than resorting to dubious acts, which raises serious doubts about her integrity”, the PTI quoted the ministry as saying.
Khobragade’s lawyers declined comment, saying “the matter is sub judice”. The MEA spokesperson, too, cited the ongoing case and declined comment. In December, the Centre had revoked the passports of the two children but Justice Shakdher of the high court stayed the order in May.
In the affidavit, the government defended its decision, saying Khobragade obtained Indian diplomatic passports for her daughters by “suppressing material facts” which established that she “wilfully and blatantly violated the Indian passport act”.
With acquiring of US passports, the children had acquired US nationality and had ceased to be Indian citizens, the government said.
Serving as India’s deputy consul-general in New York, Khobragade was arrested in 2013 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny, leading to a diplomatic standoff.
After a prolonged tussle she was able to return to India. The 39-year-old, however, ran into trouble again and was stripped of her responsibilities with the MEA in December 2014. She was put on “compulsory wait” after she told media that the vigilance inquiry against her was unfair.
The inquiry sought to know how her daughters were in possession of both Indian and US passports. Reinstated in March, Khobragade is the director of states division at the MEA headquarters.