Privileges for US diplomats in India not restored: Govt

Privileges including airport passes to US diplomats and their family members here which were withdrawn following arrest of IFS officer Devyani Khobragade over an year ago, have not been restored by the government.

PTI| Updated: Feb 01, 2015, 10:16 AM IST

New Delhi: Privileges including airport passes to US diplomats and their family members here which were withdrawn following arrest of IFS officer Devyani Khobragade over an year ago, have not been restored by the government.

The American Embassy has also not been allowed to carry out any commercial activity from its premises, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

All the identity cards earlier issued to the US officials (and their families) working it its four consulates in India were withdrawn or cancelled with effect from December 24, 2013 and new IDs were issued only to the eligible officials, it said.

With effect from January 1, 2014, the American Embassy is allowed to draw duty free alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and food items only for its eligible diplomats and not allowed to pool these items on behalf of diplomats of other embassies, the MEA said in reply to an RTI query seeking status of privileges withdrawn by the government to US diplomats here.

"On January 6, 2014 the American Embassy was directed to stop all commercial activities from its premises, which the embassy has since complied with. The government has not restored any of the above mentioned facility or privilege," it said.

The US Embassy and its consulates in India and the officials working therewith are extended immunities and privileges stipulated in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, respectively.

In addition, immunities and privileges related to their day to day functioning are also regulated by the bilateral arrangements between the two countries which are reciprocal in nature, the foreign ministry said.

Khobragade, a 1999-batch Indian Foreign Service officer posted as Deputy Consul General in New York, was taken into custody in December 2013 on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic spat between the US and India.