The Delhi High Court has restrained 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 till further orders.
The court’s interim order came in response to a petition filed by the central government seeking to restrain domestic help Shanti Gurung from pursuing her case in the US.
Justice Kailash Gambhir said the whole concept of anti-suit injunction would be defeated if the foreign court was allowed to decide the issue at this stage.
“An Indian diplomat enjoys sovereign immunity and any order passed by the court of the US would 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 court said.
A New York judge last month had recommended that 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 asked the government to establish personal contact with Gurung through its diplomatic channels to ascertain the veracity of the allegations made by her before the next date of hearing.
If Shanti Gurung has been a victim of any barbaric conduct, as held by the US court, at the hands of the Neena Malhotra, then the central Government has the prime responsibility of taking care of her rights as well, she also being an Indian citizen, the court said.
The government March 12 approached the court seeking directions to restrain Gurung from pursuing the case in the New York court. It also sought the court to direct Gurung to withdraw the complaint.
The court would next hear the matter May 3.