Lawyer of 'tortured' Indian maid in US to target diplomat's assets

New York: A day after a US judge recommended nearly $1.5 million to an Indian maid for the "barbaric treatment" by an Indian diplomat and her husband, the maid's lawyer said he plans to go after the couple's assets.

US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas has recommended that Shanti Gurung be awarded $1.5 million in compensation by Neena Malhotra, an Indian diplomat who had worked at the Indian Consulate General in Manhattan, and her husband Jogesh Malhotra.

Gurung has alleged that the Malhotras treated her unfairly, giving her a meagre salary for long hours of work.

 Lawyer of tortured Indian maid in US to target diplomats assets

Neena Malhotra. Screengrab from ibnlive

"The Indian government has consistently ignored this matter and refused to take responsibility for it, which we think is very irresponsible of them and we are hoping that they will now behave appropriately," Mitchell Karlan, the
lawyer for maid Shanti Gurung, told PTI here.

In New Delhi, sources said that it was "premature" to comment on the issue as the compensation is recommendatory in nature.

"It is premature for us to react. It is only a recommendation to the judge. We will have to wait till the process is over," sources said.

Karlan said it is "regrettable" that the Malhotras have "refused" for over a year to participate in the case and defend themselves.

"Now we have a judgement and we intend to execute on their assets. We intend to begin the process of tracking down Malhotras assets," to ensure compensation is paid to Gurung, he said.

The Malhotras had brought Gurung, who is in her early twenties, to work as their domestic help in New York in 2006.

The court complaint said the Malhotras did not give her proper food to eat and confiscated her passport, threatening her that the American police "would find, beat, rape, and imprison (her) before shipping (her) back to India as cargo"
if she tried to escape.

Maas said Gurung's compensation should also include $500,000 as damages for "emotional distress".

The Malhotras are now in India.

In the 28-page recommendation Maas recommended that Gurung be awarded judgment against the Malhotras in the amount of  $1,458,335 because of their "barbaric treatment" of her while she was employed as their domestic worker and forced to work long hours without adequate compensation for three years.

The recommendations will have to be approved by Judge Victor Marrero of the US District Court Southern District of New York, who is overseeing the case.

The final judgement will be given in 14 days.

PTI

Updated Date: Feb 24, 2012 21:39:46 IST