ibnlive » India

Mar 08, 2012 at 07:04pm IST

US: Indian diplomat may have to pay $ 1.5 mn to maid as damages

New York: A US judge's recommendation that an Indian diplomat and her husband, accused of "slavery" by their Indian maid should pay nearly $1.5 million as damages is likely to become the final ruling of the court as no objection has been filed in the case till now.

US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas had said in a February 22 recommendation filed with Judge Victor Marrero of the US District Court Southern District of New York that Shanti Gurung be paid nearly $1.5 million by Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh because of their "barbaric treatment" of her while she was employed as their domestic worker.

The parties in the case had two weeks' time to file any objection to Maas's recommendation. However no objection has been filed as of March 7, Gurung's lawyer Mitchell Karlan said.

Pay $ 1.5 mn to maid: US court to Indian diplomat

The parties in the case had two weeks' time to file any objection to Judge Frank Maas's recommendation.

"The recommendation of the magistrate automatically becomes the final ruling of the court" unless an objection was filed by March 7. "None has been filed," Karlan said.

Maas's recommendation had to be approved by Judge Marrero, who is overseeing the case. At the time of filing the recommendation, it was ruled that the judgement will become final in 14 days in the absence of any objection by the parties.

Malhotra had worked as the Counselor of Press, Culture, Information, Education, and Community Affairs at the Consulate General of India in Manhattan in 2006, when she had brought Gurung from India to work as her domestic help.

Gurung has alleged she was a victim of "outrageous and shocking conduct". She said the Malhotras seized her passport and treated her unfairly, giving her a meagre salary for long hours of work and not providing her with adequate food.

Gurung has also alleged that she was not provided adequate boarding and made to "sleep on the floor" of the Malhotra's three bedroom apartment. She "often went hungry" as the Malhotras gave her leftovers to eat from the meals she had cooked.

When asked about Gurung's whereabouts in the US, Karlan declined to give details of where his client is and how she is managing her stay. Karlan had said the Malhotras "refused" for over a year to participate in the case and defend themselves adding that he would begin the process of tracking down Malhotras assets and plan to go after the couple's assets to ensure the compensation is made to Gurung.

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