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* India lashes out at US for interfering in the legal system of a 'friendly and democratic country'
Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 11:09 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 19, New Delhi: India today severely criticized the United States for interfering in and undermining the India's legal system over the arrest of its diplomat in New York and asked what right a foreign government has to "evacuate" Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system.

India, seething over the arrest of its diplomat in New York, Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade on charges of evading the U.S. law and visa fraud over the employment of an Indian domestic worker, is further incensed by the evacuation of the domestic worker's family by the United States while an Indian investigation was in progress over the incident.

Responding to a statement issued by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney on December 18, the Official Spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs said the U.S. Attorney's statement is a "one more attempt at a post facto rationalization for an action that should never have taken place in the first instance."

The Indian-born U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in his statement on Wednesday said the victim's family has been brought to the United States since a legal process was started in India against the victim, attempting to silence her, and attempts were made to compel her to return to India.

The ministry spokesman said the U.S. statement acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India, but incredibly invites speculation about why it was necessary to evacuate the family of Ms. Richards (domestic worker) and about the action purportedly being taken against them.

"The implication of this remarkable admission needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes about the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities, and the responsibility that legal officials of a foreign government seem to arrogate upon themselves with regard to the nationals of another country," the spokesman said.

"It needs to be asked what right a foreign government has to "evacuate" Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system," the spokesman said.

He said the U.S. Attorney's statement underlines the compulsion that is felt by his office "to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending."

"This is precisely why, when there is a prior legal process already underway in India, the Manhattan US Attorney should consider it obligatory to enable justice to take its course in India in the first instance. When the legal process in another friendly and democratic country is interfered with in this manner, it not only amounts to interference but also raises the serious concern of calling into question the very legal system of that country," the spokesman lashed out.

The U.S. Attorney in his statement said there has been much misinformation and factual inaccuracy in the reporting on the charges against the Indian diplomat and it is important to correct the inaccuracies because they are misleading people and creating an inflammatory atmosphere on an unfounded basis.

The U.S. Attorney said sole motivation of his office in this case, as in all cases, is to uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law - no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are.

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