New York: The United States has played down a lawsuit filed by Krittika Biswas, the 18-year-old daughter of Indian diplomat Debashish Biswas in the US, who slapped a case against New York City and sued mayor Michael Bloomberg for $1.5 million for wrongful arrest.
The US State Department, citing the rule book, has said family members of consular officials do not enjoy diplomatic immunity as per the Vienna convention.
"The Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs provides that consular officers are not liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a felony where a court warrant is required. But that provision does not apply to family members," the State Departments spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at his daily news conference in Washington on Wednesday.
Family members of the diplomats do carry diplomatic passports, he acknowledged but diplomatic immunity does not apply to them, he noted.
"This is different for consular officers versus those in the embassy. There are different categories," Toner said. At a news conference in New York, Krittika Biswas, daughter of the vice counsel at the Indian Consulate in Manhattan, Debashish Biswas, claimed that she was ill-treated in prison.
Krittika Biswas has claimed that she was wrongly arrested for allegedly sending obscene emails to her teachers.
Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar will meet Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday over the issue.
Krittika is the daughter of the Vice Counsel at the consulate general of India in Manhattan Debashish Biswas. She was arrested and kept in custody for over 24 hours despite having diplomatic immunity.
Krittika has sued New York City for handcuffing her and locking her up in prison for a crime she never committed.
She was suspended from school in February earlier this year, but later taken back after the school's principal nailed down the real perpetrator. "One of my friends asked aren't you ashamed that you are arrested, I said I didn't do anything," Krittika explained.
Krittika's lawyer Ravi Batra called the act criminally stupid and said it does not show of any disciplinary system in the school.
"There was no access granted as the Vienna Convention required," Batra said.
The charge against Krittika was cyber bullying her teachers at John Bowne High School. She was accused of sending sexually explicit and insulting emails with references to rape, incest and prostitution.
"The emails were sent by a Chinese guy. They tracked the IP address to a general area and my building was in the general area. They zeroed in on my building as lot of kids from the building go to this school. They suspected me because both the teachers I knew and I knew French," Krittika told CNN-IBN.
But her lawyer said that the school had bungled the investigation by misunderstanding internet protocol addresses.
"It's stupid, it's criminally stupid, and it doesn't say much about our disciplinary system in the schools," said Batra. "The incompetence level that was functioning at John Bowne HS is beyond pathetic," Batra added.
Krittika's ordeal came to an end when the real culprit, a boy was found out. Krittika was released and the school expunged her record and admitted her back.
The sources have described the action against Krittika as "disproportionate".
Curiously no action was taken against the real culprit. At this point Krittika is firm not only about damages but she also wants the key to New York from no less than the Mayor.