Maid case: Court reserves order on government plea (Lead)

March 14th, 2012 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on the government’s plea seeking directions to restrain an Indian domestic help, awarded nearly $1.5 million relief for alleged ill-treatment by an Indian consulate employee in the US, from pursuing her case in a New York court.

Justice Kailash Gambhir asked the government why it had made itself a party to the case.

“Why are you filing a case? Why can the diplomat not file apetition on her own? How can Union of India become a party on what happens in the four corners of a flat,” the court asked.

Responding to this, Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandiok said that the government had sent the diplomat to New York. Thus, the government took a stand and filed a petition in the US.

“To bring into the notice of the US court that she is an Indian diplomat, I filed the petition there,” Chandiok said.

“Can someone interfere with the administrative service of India,” asked Chandiok, adding that the New York court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the maid’s complaint.

Chandiok told the court that the diplomat had transferred an amount of Rs.221,000 into the maid’s account in lieu of her service which was later reimbursed by the government to the diplomat.

A New York judge last month recommended that maid Shanti Gurung deserved nearly $1.5 million for her “barbaric treatment” by Neena Malhotra, who in 2006 served as press counsellor at the Indian consulate in the US, and her husband Jogesh.

Gurung in her complaint in the US alleged that Malhotra made her work without pay, seized her passport and visa, restricted her ability to leave her apartment and constantly warned her that if she travelled on her own, without their permission, she would be arrested, beaten and raped.

Justice Gambhir Tuesday sought the bank account details in which the salary of the maid was paid.

The government March 12 approached the court seeking directions to restrain Gurung from pursuing the case in a New York court. It also sought the court to direct Gurung to withdraw the complaint.

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