The Central Administrative Tribunal asked the government to promote Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade to the rank of joint secretary if found fit for the job, Live Law reported on Thursday. The CAT rules on disputes related to recruitment and service conditions of government employees.
Khobragade was India’s deputy consul general in New York in 2013 when United States authorities arrested her for underpaying her maid, and strip-searched her. In 2014, the Ministry of External Affairs initiated action against the IFS officer for giving interviews to the media without permission, and for making allegedly misleading statements about her children’s passports.
In an order passed on March 22, the CAT said there had been an inordinate delay in the inquiry ordered against Khobragade. The investigation began in May 2015 and was pending even in December 2016, the tribunal said.
Khobragade’s batch was considered for promotion to Grade-III (joint secretary) rank, but her case was kept in a sealed cover because of the pending inquiry against her. The Disciplinary Authority in November penalised Khobragade with a reduction in the time scale of pay.
“This delay has severely prejudiced the case of the applicant for promotion to the next higher grade,” a bench headed by CAT chairperson Justice Permod Kohli said. The tribunal asked the Centre to open Khobragade’s case for promotion, which has been kept in a sealed envelope. It said if Khobragade is found fit for the job, she should be promoted to joint secretary with retrospective effect from 2016.
“This shall be done within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order,” the bench said.