Can Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara torpedo Devyani Khobragade’s chances of getting a UN visa granting her immunity from charges his office has brought against her?
Many in India may believe he can. But he can’t. His office on Thursday clarified it will have no role in it.
A US government source had earlier said that Bharara’s office could, at best, be asked for its opinion, given the nature of the case. “But that opinion, even if sought, won’t be binding,” the source had added.
The case was initiated by the state department’s bureau of diplomatic security, whose agents arrested Khobragade on December 12 from outside her children’s school. As a member of the Indian consulate in New York, at the time of her arrest, she did not enjoy complete diplomatic immunity from US laws. But she will after her transfer to the UN mission.
After leaving Khobragade’s home in June, her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard approached Safe Horizon, a non-profit which works on human trafficking and abuse. They went to the state department, whose bureau of diplomatic security launched an investigation, which ended in visa fraud charges against Khobragade.
But the bureau of diplomatic security, under US laws, couldn’t prosecute the case, which is the domain of prosecution agencies, in this case Bharara’s office.