Injunction doesn’t reach Sangeeta, HC hearing hours after US begins action

Devyani KhobragadeDevyani was arrested in the US last Thursday, hours before the case came up for hearing before the Delhi High Court on Friday. (AP)

Even as the defence for Devyani Khobragade argues that the Delhi High Court has issued an injunction restraining her former maid Sangeeta Richard from filing any proceedings outside India, Richard is legally unaware of the injunction, because the court notice has not reached her yet.

On September 20, the high court bench of Justice Jayant Nath issued an ex parte injunction restraining Sangeeta and her husband Philip Richard from "initiating any action or proceeding or filing any suit or claims" in any court outside India, relating to her employment with Khobragade.

The injunction was issued without a lawyer for Sangeeta or her husband being present, and while lawyers for the Ministry of External Affairs were present in court, they did not raise any objections or inform the court about the previous complaints and counter complaints between the diplomat and her employee.

An advocate for the MEA, who did not wish to be named, said these matters were not brought up as the "issue was at its initial stages".

However, on the next date of hearing on December 13, the court was informed that the notice sent by it had not been served on Sangeeta. The court in its order issued on that day again directed that the summons should be served.

Devyani was arrested in the US last Thursday, hours before the case came up for hearing before the Delhi High Court on Friday. The issue, however, was not brought up before the court, and the hearing was restricted to the matter of the summons.

In its September order, the court had said that while prima facie evidence indicated that the case was in Devyani's favour, since the contract of employment was signed in India, the details of the contract were not in the documents. The court observed that the contract placed on record was a "standard agreement prescribed by the Embassy of the United States in India for regulating the relationship between diplomatic agents and their domestic assistants."

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