$225,000 settlement along with an acknowledgment that Krittika was an Honor Student at the time of her false arrest
I.S. Saluja : NEW YORK (TIP)When on September 30, 2013, SDNY Judge Koetl issued a scholarly and thorough Order, in which the court rebuffed the defendants’ (New York City) ignoble attempt to dismiss Krittika’s case in its entirety, it was becoming clear that defendants were losing ground in the case. Therefore , when in September, 2014 New York City came forward with the Stipulation of Settlement, it didn’t surprise Krittika’s attorney Ravi Batra.
“We have vindicated Krittika’s honor, Indian Diplomats’ honor, and India’s honor in the United States” said Ravi Batra, Krittika Biswas’ lawyer, in announcing a $225,000 settlement won from New York City along with an acknowledgment that Krittika was an Honor Student at the time of her false arrest and 1-day spent in jail on February 8, 2011 awaiting arraignment in court on misdemeanor charges. Attached hereto, is the Stipulation of Settlement, which has been submitted for the Court’s approval.
Recalling the incident which shocked the entire Indian American community, Mr. Batra said, “On February 9, 2011, while I was on my way to Supreme Court in Manhattan to fight my then-pending libel-in-fiction case against Dick Wolf and Law & Order before Justice Lucy Billings, I got a frantic call from my friend and India’s then Consul General, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, saying that one of his viceconsul’s daughter had been arrested yesterday, and despite all efforts, including with the US State Department, and his officers being in Court, they had not gotten anywhere and could I rush to Queens.
I promised him that I would do so. And indeed, I rushed to Queens Criminal Court and met Deputy Consul General Gondane (Devyani Kobragade’s uncle), Krittika’s parents and many other officials of India” recalled Batra. “Within minutes of my arrival, I personally met on February 9, 2011 with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and during such meeting assured him that Krittika was actually innocent and this case was going to blow up and become a problem case.
Judge Brown, as DA Brown is known given his exemplary service to all New Yorkers for over 50 years, including, as counsel to NYS Governor Hugh Carey and later as a high ranking appellate Justice, took the rare step to administratively dismiss all criminal charges against Krittika based upon my word – such that Krittika never had to step into Criminal Court and pled “not guilty,” her file was “sealed,” and she could legally say that she was never arrested.
It is for this reason, I called Judge Brown an American Hero” said Batra. “Of course, the ethically compromised and arrogant Principal Howard Kwait upon learning of the unconstitutional charges being dismissed, retaliated by suspending Krittika. During those proceeding we proved Krittika’s innocence – that her Internet Service Provider (ISP) was Time- Warner’s “Roadrunner” while the culprit’s ISP was “Earthlink.” One day later, with our forensic expert’s sworn report, the actually guilty student was identified and he confessed – except he was not arrested or criminally charged – proof of foul discriminatory disparate treatment of Krittika despite her actual innocence” said Batra.
Krittika then filed a Notice of Claim, and given then-Secretary of State Clinton’s Legal Advisor’s stance on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, and on May 7, 2012 we sued in Federal District Court for the SDNY in Manhattan the following defendants: City of New York, it’s Department of Education, John Bowne High School’s arrogant principal Howard Kwait, who has since been punished by NYC for being unethical, Teacher Jamie Kim-Ross, nowretired, who dreamt up false and unreasonable suspicion that Krittika was the author of offensive emails threatening violence, and several police officers who should have known better that they had no probable cause to arrest Krittika” Batra added.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, we filed an amended complaint, the City moved again to dismiss and after argument before the scholarly and learned SDNY Federal Judge John G. Koeltl, he issued an Order that refused to dismiss Krittika’s entire case. The City then took an interlocutory appeal to the second highest court in the country, the Lofty Second Circuit Court of Appeals and we did a full briefing of 4th Amendment’s unreasonable searches and seizures jurisprudence across our nation -including probable cause, arguable probable cause and qualified immunity.
After that, on August 20, 2014, we argued against the appeal before legal giants – Judge Jose A. Cabranes of the Kiobel-fame, Judge Chester J. Straub who has served as a senator and chief of federal judge-selection committee and Judge Raymond J. Lohier, Jr. of SDNY United States Attorney’s Office fame. A transcript of the Argument is available upon request – and empowers the parents of 1.1 million of our kids who attend public school and run the risk of being falsely arrested, falsely charged, and end up in jail with a criminal record.
Within 3 days of the Argument, on August 25, 2014, the three appellate Judges issued a lightening fast Order agreeing with our argument in toto and denied the defendants’ appeal and sent the case back to J. Koetl for discovery and trial. “Having completely won Krittika’s case on the law, I advised, and Krittika agreed, with her diplomatic family’s support, that in recognition of the warm relations between India and United States, exemplified by President Obama having Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his First State Guest in November 2009 and PM Narendra Modi’s upcoming meeting with him this month, as well as having nominated the now-legendary Preet Bharara as a SDNY US Attorney and Sri Srinivasan as a federal appellate judge on the DC Circuit, our family friend Mayor Bill de Blasio having Indian-Americans in various important cabinet-level positions governing NYC, the greatest city in the world, and India having released NYPD Police Officer Manny Encarnicion and dismissed the criminal charges arising out of 3 bullets in packed luggage, that a just resolution of this case also needed to be mutually respectful in both tone and timing so as to enhance the bilateral relationship – itself in need of what I call a ‘mutually respectful reset'” said Batra.
So, I’m happy to announce on Krittika’s behalf that she joins me in “thanking Judge Brown, Senior Senator Chuck Schumer, Senior Congressman Gary L. Ackerman, the Indian- American community, everyone in India, members of the international media, Ambassadors Prabhu Dayal and Meera Shanker, and all her former classmates and teachers at John Bowne High School who gave her emotional and moral support to give her the strength so that she has been able to settle the case in full measure.” “Finally, I thank NYC’s Corporation Counsel Zach Carter and City’s Senior Federal Litigation Division Attorney Sumit Sud, worthy adversaries, for rising to the occasion and seizing the moment of graciousness and mutual respect and bringing an honorable closure to this case of ‘many tears.’ Of course, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s genius is in saving taxpayers’ money that would otherwise have been spent in giving us, as lawyers, a bigger legal fee approaching a million dollars.
I proud of having protected Krittika, and vindicating India’s daughter’s honor in full measure with legal Orders documenting same, even as we forgave the defendants obligation to pay our legal fees in full measure, given my desire to enhance our nation’s foreign relations with India and every Indian.” said Batra. “As a comparison, on January 15, 2014, after nearly a decade of litigation by New York Civil Liberties Union against NYC, a class settlement was reached for $18 million for 1800 protesters arrested during the 2004 Republican Convention that nominated President George W. Bush for his Second term – that settlement netted each protester $6,400 each and legal fees of $7.6 million. Krittika’s settlement far exceeds that $18 million historic settlement, even as we forgave our City it’s obligation to pay much more towards legal fees as a proud New York Lawyer-Citizen” concluded a happy Batra.
No doubt, Attorney Ravi Batra deserves congratulations and gratitude of not only Krittika Biswas and her family, but of the entire Indian American community to put up a determined legal fight to vindicate the honor of a young Indian girl. I must also mention here that Attorney Batra’s wife Ranju Batra has been a constant and strong source of encouragement and comfort to Krittika and her family during the most stressful period for them. All is well that ends well.