NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Services officer Devyani Khobragade, who was stripped searched in the US in 2013, finally was promoted Friday, seven months after the Central Administrative Tribunal ruled in her favour, according to an official order.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the empanelment of Dr (Mrs) Devyani Uttam Khobragade for promotion to Grade-III (joint secretary) of the Indian Foreign Service in "on notional basis with effect from November 1, 2016", the order stated.
It comes nearly seven months after the CAT asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to promote the 1999 IFS officer as a joint secretary within two months if she was found fit for the job.
The direction had come on her plea alleging that when her batch was considered for promotion to Grade-III of the Indian Foreign Service, that is the joint secretary rank for he vacancy year 2016-17, her case was not considered and kept in a sealed cover, apparently due to the pendency of enquiry proceedings against her.
The MEA had initiated proceedings against her for giving interviews to the media without taking permission from the ministry, as also for her "misleading" statement that it was permissible for her children, who were both under 18 years of age, to retain both Indian and US passports.
The disciplinary authority (DA) had in November 2017 imposed on her the penalty of "reduction to a lower stage in the time scale of pay by one stage for a period of one year without cumulative effect and not adversely affecting her pension".
The CAT noted there was an "inordinate and unexplained" delay of about 20 months on the end of the ministry in acting on Khobragade's March 2015 reply on the charges and said the penalty imposed by the DA shall be treated as effective from September 2015 and ending on August 2016.
"From the inordinate delay of 20 months at the end of the respondents (ministry), we are fully convinced that the respondents have not shown any alacrity or seriousness to complete the proceedings against the applicant (Khobragade) in a reasonable time frame," it said.
Khobragade was deputy consul general in New York in late 2013 when she was arrested by the US authorities for allegedly underpaying her Indian maid in a fraudulent manner.
Her strip-search, which followed the arrest, had created an uproar in India with the then UPA government threatening similar action against US diplomats and scaling down the immunity enjoyed by them here.
Khobragade's children live in the US with their father while she is not allowed to travel abroad pending the case against her in the US.
She has also moved the high court against denial of Indian citizenship and passport to her children by the MEA.
She has also written a book "The white sari" after the controversies in the US.