The Delhi high court has issued summons to Sangeeta Richard — the domestic help of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade who was arrested and subsequently released on bail in the US on Friday — after Khobragade submitted a plea asking the court to restrain Richard from moving a court outside India over the terms of her employment.
Justice Jayant Nath had on September 20 restrained Richard from initiating any proceedings against Khobragade outside India, saying that any grievance with regard to her terms of employment, including salary shortfalls and ill-treatment, could only be adjudicated by an Indian court.
The HC had remarked both Khobragade and Richard were working as an employee of the Indian government at the official residence and hence jurisdiction for adjudicating dispute between the two rested with the Indian courts only.
“Khobragade was sent in official capacity to the United States and thus enjoys sovereign immunity and any order passed by the court of United States would be tantamount to interfering in the rights of the Government of India to determine the terms and conditions of the employment of its diplomatic officers posted abroad,” the HC had said.
While the HC has issued notices to Richard and her Delhi-based husband Philip Richard, advocate Richa Kapoor, appearing for the ministry of external affairs, said the ministry would submit its response on February 5, 2014, the next date of hearing.
Khobragade, currently posted as deputy consul general at the Indian consulate in New York, had moved the civil suit against Richard in the HC apprehending that the maid might accuse her of ill-treatment during her employment in the US.
In her suit, Khobragade has said Richard was employed with her in the US since November 23, 2012 as an India Based Domestic Assistant with an official passport issued by the India government. She said the problem started in March 2013, when Richard started asking her for permission to allow her to work outside on her off day, Sunday.
However, Richard was told that she was not legally entitled to work anywhere else as she was on an official passport with a dependent visa.
Seven months later, on June 23, Richard left Khobragade’s house to buy groceries and failed to return.
Khobragade informed the consulate general in New York and requested them to inform the concerned authorities.
Richard resurfaced on July 8 at the ‘access immigration’ in New York where she demanded a sum of US 10,000 dollars as her dues for her wages, an ordinary Indian passport, and immigration relief.
On the same day, Indian government revoked her passport and requested the US Department of State to assist the consulate in repatriating her to India.