'Enslaved' Indian maid may get $1.5 million as damages

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New York, Mar 8: 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 USD 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 told PTI. "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.


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