WASHINGTON (TIP): A US court dismissed on December 23, an alleged human rights violation case against Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, saying the New York-based Sikh group never physically served the summons on him. Dismissing a petition for “panel rehearing” filed by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-Amritsar) the seventh circuit court of appeals on Monday upheld its decision regarding service of summons to Badal.
The court also rejected SFJ claim that Badal’s State Department security team was complicit in shielding Badal from suit. The trial court had dismissed the SFJ lawsuit against Badal on the grounds that a Chicago-based Sikh Surinder Pal Singh Kalra was served with the summons instead of Badal at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin, on August 9 as claimed by SFJ. SFJ petition for “panel rehearing” had argued that 30 days given to plaintiffs were not sufficient to complete jurisdictional discovery to find out whether it was Kalra or Badal who was served or Kalra’s testimony was fabricated or influenced by Badal’s agents.
SFJ attorney Gurpatwant S Pannun said SFJ and SAD will now file a “motion to remand” the case to district court to establish that alternative service of summons through Hague Service has been accomplished on Badal. The Hague Service is a treaty signed by both India and United States which allows service of judicial papers between the signatory countries without diplomatic involvement, Pannun said. The Sikh groups have retained the services of “Process Forwarding International” (PFI), a Washington based company to accomplish service on Badal in India. The two groups have accused Badal of “protecting and commanding a police force responsible for torture and extra judicial killings of Sikhs in the state of Punjab” during his tenure for more than 12 years from 1997 till 2002 and from 2007 till present. The groups will also file an appeal with the US Supreme Court challenging the appeals court’s order, Pannun said. The plaintiffs have till March 23 to do so.