The government Wednesday approached the Delhi High Court seeking directions to restrain an Indian maid, awarded nearly $1.5 million relief for alleged ill-treatment by an Indian consulate employee in the US, from pursuing the claim in a New York court.
Justice Kailash Gambhir would March 13 hear the petition asking the court to direct maid Shanti Gurung to withdraw the complaints.
Countering Gurung’s allegation that she was trafficked to the US against her will, the government’s petition said “the fact is she travelled to New York at the expenses of the government of India.
“Gurung also alleged that she was not paid during her stay in New York as service staff to Neena Malhotra. Admittedly, Neena Malhotra was making payments as per mutually agreed terms and conditions in the form of regular transfers into a bank account in India,” the petition said.
The petition said the action taken by the US district court impaired the discharge of sovereign functions of the Indian government.
“The defendents are not entitled to proceed or take any further action, including enforcement anywhere of any order that may have been passed or may be passed in default or otherwise, without the leave of this high court,” the petition stated.
A New York judge last month 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.
The proposed award included $500,000 for the “emotional distress” inflicted on Gurung, who was a teenager when she was taken to the US.
Gurung in her complaint in the US against the Indian consulate employee alleged that she 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.
Manhattan Federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas earlier wrote that the Malhotras clearly induced their ex-maid to “work without pay by seizing her passport and visa…”
His recommendations are subject to approval by Judge Victor Marrero, who is overseeing the case.
In December 2010, Judge Marrero granted Gurung a default judgment against the Malhotras, who returned to India before they could be served with their ex-maid’s suit.
In her lawsuit, Gurung alleged that in bringing her over to the US in 2006 on an A-3 visa, Neena Malhotra instructed Gurung to tell the US embassy in New Delhi that she would be paid $7 per hour.
The complaint also said that with a steady deterioration in her living conditions from June 2006, Gurung was required to “perform substantially more duties than had been represented at the time of recruitment”.