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News18 » Videos » News18 Shorts

Foreign Ministry clears officer sued by ex-help

Jul 07, 2010 02:44 PM IST India India

New Delhi: The External Affairs Ministry has absolved a senior officer who was sued by her former domestic help in New York for alleged harassment and enslavement. Neena Malhotra, who returned from New York about a year back, is currently Director, Southern Division of the External Affairs Ministry. Malhotra’s former domestic help Shanti Gurung has alleged in her lawsuit that she was "essentially kidnapped" from India in 2006 at age 17 and was ordered to give daily massages and perform other chores. The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages says Gurung -- now 21 -- was paid only $ 120 over 40 months. The lawsuit also alleges that Gurung was made to work 16 hours in a day without holidays and she was often refused food and had to sleep on the floor. Gurung claims Malhotra took away her passport and she was almost held a prisoner at the couple's house. Malhotra has rejected Gurung's allegations and has furnished bank statements that show the domestic help was given at least Rs 5,500 each month and had a bank deposit of Rs 2.4 lakh. Malhotra has submitted air tickets that show Gurung availed of leave and travelled home to Delhi on government expense in January 2007 and then returned to New York. Malhotra claims Gurung disappeared on the last day of her posting in New York in July last year and the matter was reported to the US State Department. After 12 months, Gurung sued Malhotra. The officer has also submitted photographs of Gurung with the Malhotra family at picnics and music concerts. The Ministry says it's satisfied with Malhotra's statements, and officials suspect that the domestic help's sudden disappearance -- and equally sudden re-appearance a year later only to file a lawsuit -- is an attempt to legalise her stay in the US. The External Affairs Ministry has sought legal opinion on whether US authorities have jurisdiction to investigate the allegations against Malhotra.

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