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Central Administrative Tribunal orders Devyani Khobragade’s promotion

Once at the centre of the worst diplomatic firestorm to have hit India-US relations in decades, Devyani Khobragade has won a major reprieve from Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which adjudicates on disputes related to recruitment and service conditions of government employees.

Updated: Mar 28, 2018, 11.12 AM IST
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CAT ordered that Khobragade shall be promoted to the grade of joint secretary from November 1, 2016 when her batch-mates were promoted to that grade.
(This story originally appeared in on Mar 28, 2018)
NEW DELHI: Once at the centre of the worst diplomatic firestorm to have hit India-US relations in decades, Devyani Khobragade has won a major reprieve from Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which adjudicates on disputes related to recruitment and service conditions of government employees.

In an order dated March 23, CAT not just directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to immediately promote Khobragade to the rank of joint secretary with effect from 2016 but also pulled up the ministry for keeping the departmental inquiry against her pending for almost 20 months.

The delay in completion of the inquiry meant that Khobragade's promotion was kept in a sealed cover until the disciplinary inquiry was complete, and she could not be promoted to the rank of joint secretary along with her other 1999 IFS batchmates in 2016. Khobragade had approached CAT in the matter after writing to former foreign secretary S Jaishankar that the delay of nearly two years to complete inquiry under his administration had caused her denial of promotion despite her outstanding service records.

MEA had proposed action against her for giving interviews to the media without taking permission from the ministry and also for her "misleading" statement that it was permissible for her children, who were both under 18 years of age, to retain both Indian and US passports. Khobragade's children live in the US with their father, while she is not allowed to travel abroad pending the case against her in the US. Khobragade has also moved High Court against denial of Indian citizenship and passport to her children by MEA.

CAT held in its order that the inquiry against Khobragade was kept pending for almost 20 months, from May 2015 to December 2016. It said Khobragade's interest had been grievously prejudiced by this unexplained delay caused by the MEA not proceeding in the matter even after the receipt of the applicant’s representation in March 2015 to the charges against her.

CAT ordered that Khobragade shall be promoted to the grade of joint secretary from November 1, 2016 when her batch-mates were promoted to that grade.

"This shall be done within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order. It is also clarified that the applicant shall be entitled to all consequential benefits," it said.

Khobragade was deputy consul general in New York late 2013 when she was arrested by US authorities for allegedly underpaying her Indian maid in a fraudulent manner. However, her strip-search which followed the arrest created an uproar in India with then UPA government threatening similar action against US diplomats and scaling down the immunity enjoyed by them here.

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