Preet Bharara’s activism in Devyani’s maid case even riles US judge

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December 26, 2013

NEW DELHI: The Devyani Khobragade case has put the spotlight on US attorney Preet Bharara in a way that his other famous case against Rajat Gupta failed to do. Last week, Bharara's long press release on the case against Khobragade set teeth on edge in staid South Block, to the extent that the foreign ministry went out of its way to issue a rebuttal.

December 26, 2013

NEW DELHI: The Devyani Khobragade case has put the spotlight on US attorney Preet Bharara in a way that his other famous case against Rajat Gupta failed to do. Last week, Bharara's long press release on the case against Khobragade set teeth on edge in staid South Block, to the extent that the foreign ministry went out of its way to issue a rebuttal.

For many, Bharara's activism is a manifestation of his Arvind Kejriwal-like politics in New York City. But just as it is grating in India, it turns out that federal judges too are not impressed by his tactics.

Wall Street Journal recently reported that Bharara's thundering press statements on ongoing cases came in for criticism from a federal judge in New York, who openly criticized their "tabloid tone".

The report quoted US district judge Richard J Sullivan as saying the attorney office's press releases had assumed a "tabloid" tone. The judge questioned whether Bharara was casting too much judgment on public officials who stood accused of corruption, but had not been convicted.

"Judge Sullivan singled out one Southern District press release for ridicule — an April announcement of criminal charges against two New York City lawmakers — that brimmed with statements from Mr Bharara about New York's 'show-me-the-money culture'," the report said.

"That sounds like the theme from Mighty Mouse," Judge Sullivan said, according to a Law360 report on the October 1 event, hosted by the Practising Law Institute. "This seems to be designed for tabloid consumption… there should be a question asked that is that appropriate at the pre-conviction stage."

The criticism, the report said, was seen to be particularly damning, coming as it did from a judge who is believed to be equally merciless towards corrupt politicians and people in high places.

According to the report, although Bharara's office kept its peace on the judge's criticism, a second attorney from his office defended Bharara's thundering press statements. "Richard Zabel, the deputy US attorney in Bharara's office and another panelist, defended how they talk about their cases. 'The purpose of a quote is to be quoted and draw attention to the case', he said," according to Law360. "Laypeople can't read a complaint."


Courtesy: TNN