Mid rank, Indian diplomats are normally only allowed to take one domestic servant per trip. The Government pays the air fare and provides an allowance to pay the servant. It is in the diplomat's interest to keep the servant happy otherwise the servant has the right to return to India leaving the diplomat to fend for herself.
Many servants will feel lonely, they may find the climate not to their liking, they may miss their own families. Thus the diplomat needs to ensure that the servant has a good social life and is treated as a member of the family- e.g. being taken along for sight-seeing trips and Community events. Also their Religious needs must be catered for.
Did Devyani keep her maid happy? It appears not because the maid left her. Now the maid was entitled to return to India at Govt. expense if she felt mistreated or if her mental health had suffered in the new country or by reason of family emergency and so on. It was the duty of the Consul General to ensure that her grievances were addressed and that she was sent back safely.
What about if the maid simply absconded? Then the Consulate had a duty to inform the U.S authorities and also to take such steps commensurate with their duty of care- i.e. establish that she was not ill, under duress or at risk of exploitation.
Did anything of this sort happen?
According to the the U.S indictment of Devyani Khobragade-
Devyani's f.i.r accuses Sangita Richards and her husband of various crimes of cheating and conspiring to obtain and retain an official Indian passport for a malafide purpose.
It is poorly written-
This is quite extraordinary. Why is the husband of the maid being accused of cheating and conspiracy and other such crimes? Which ordinary diplomat would proceed in such a high handed way? If Devyani herself, and not her superior officials at the Consulate or the M.E.A, initiated this plot she must be sacked and tried in an Indian Court. If not, she must be questioned as to who ordered her to put her name to the above.
We might suspect that her father acted officiously and she reluctantly backed him up. This would fit the mind-set of the retired I.A.S officer. However, the fact that Devyani made this f.i.r speaks for itself.
I don't know if it is true that Sangeeta Richards demanded to be sent back on her own passport. But it is quite probable as it improved her bargaining position. Devyani had no right to deny this request. Now, the Consul General could have spoken to the maid-servant and promised to redress her grievances. He could have said- 'okay, tell you what, we will pay you for helping out at Consulate parties. We will include you in more sightseeing excursions. We will get you vocational training. We will organize a creche so you and others like you have more time off. One thing, as a matter of urgency, we will ensure you can attend Religious services to your liking.
'One thing we will never do is to say you can't return to India even though you are finding it difficult to cope here. You are a citizen of India same as us. We may appeal to your patriotism to stick it out but we can't deny your right to go home.'
Indian Courts must now take cognizance, by suo moto or other means, of what has happened and send a clear signal to the I.F.S cadre in this matter.
I wonder, had no strip search occurred and if, instead Devyani had been merely subpoenaed, whether Govt of India might have waived civil immunity?