US: Indian maid’s lawyer to target envoy`s assets

A day after a US judge recommended nearly USD 1.5 million to an Indian maid, the woman`s lawyer said he plans to go after the couple`s assets.

New York: A day after a US judge recommended
nearly USD 1.5 million to an Indian maid for the "barbaric
treatment" by an Indian diplomat and her husband, the woman`s
lawyer today said he plans to go after the couple`s assets as
he asked New Delhi to take appropriate action in the case.

US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas has recommended that
Shanti Gurung be awarded USD 1.5 million in compensation by
Neena Malhotra, an Indian diplomat who had worked at the
Indian Consulate General in Manhattan, and her husband Jogesh

Gurung has alleged that the Malhotras treated her
unfairly, giving her a meagre salary for long hours of work.

"The Indian government has consistently ignored this
matter and refused to take responsibility for it, which we
think is very irresponsible of them and we are hoping that
they will now behave appropriately," Mitchell Karlan, the
lawyer for maid Shanti Gurung, said.

In New Delhi, sources said that it was "premature" to
comment on the issue as the compensation is recommendatory in

"It is premature for us to react. It is only a
recommendation to the judge. We will have to wait till the
process is over," sources said.

Karlan said it is "regrettable" that the Malhotras have
"refused" for over a year to participate in the case and
defend themselves.

"Now we have a judgement and we intend to execute on
their assets. We intend to begin the process of tracking down
Malhotras assets," to ensure compensation is paid to Gurung,
he said.

The Malhotras had brought Gurung, who is in her early
twenties, to work as their domestic help in New York in 2006.

The court complaint said the Malhotras did not give her
proper food to eat and confiscated her passport, threatening
her that the American police "would find, beat, rape, and
imprison (her) before shipping (her) back to India as cargo"
if she tried to escape.

Maas said Gurung`s compensation should also include USD
500,000 as damages for "emotional distress".

The Malhotras are now in India.

In the 28-page recommendation Maas recommended that
Gurung be awarded judgment against the Malhotras in the amount
of USD 1,458,335 because of their "barbaric treatment" of her
while she was employed as their domestic worker and forced to
work long hours without adequate compensation for three years.

Maas`s recommendation will still have to be approved by
Judge Victor Marrero of the US District Court Southern
District of New York, who is overseeing the case.

The judgement will become final in 14 days.


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