Badal seeks time to respond to charges in US court
New York: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was served summons by a US court last month in a case of alleged custodial torture and extra judicial killings of Sikhs, has sought dismissal of the motion against him or additional time of 90 days to defend the charges.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin had issued Summons against Badal on August 8 when he was in Wisconsin on a private visit to attend a marriage ceremony.
Badal, however, said through his attorneys from law firm Kirkland and Ellis and Milwaukee-based Michael Best and Friedrich that the summons was not issued properly and has sought additional 90 days to defend the charges of commanding and shielding officers responsible for custodial torture and extra judicial killings of Sikhs.
"Defendant Parkash Singh Badal, through his undersigned counsel, moves the Court to dismiss this action for failing to establish proper service. In the alternative, if the Court finds service was proper, the Defendant hereby moves for an additional ninety (90) days to file an answer, respond or otherwise plead in this case," he said.
City-based Sikh advocacy group Sikhs for Justice have filed the charges against the Punjab Chief Minister and said it will amend the complaint against Badal to add additional charges, plaintiffs and witnesses who have suffered custodial abuses and torture.
Badal's attorney Michelle Jacobs submitted a motion before the US court on August 30 asking "to dismiss for failure to effectuate service; or in the alternative for an additional 90 days to file a responsive pleading".
"On information and belief, the defendant was not personally served with Summons at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin, and service of Summons as claimed by plaintiffs is invalid and procedurally deficient," the motion filed on behalf of Badal said.
It added that "the importance of proper service is paramount in this case because the plaintiffs' sole claim for jurisdiction and venue against the defendant, a foreign citizen, is based on plaintiffs' assertion that the defendant was present in the state of Wisconsin within the territorial boundaries of this district at or around the time of filing this complaint. The complaint alleges no other connection to the State and Eastern District of Wisconsin".
According to SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, since the issuance of summons against Badal, scores of Sikhs have come forward alleging torture and human rights abuses during the Badal regime and have expressed keenness to be part of the case against Badal.
Since the issuance of summons against Badal, family members of some plaintiffs have alleged they are being threatened by the Punjab Police.
Citing the threats and continuous harassment by Badal regime of the family members of plaintiffs back home, Pannun said such threats by Badal regime not only prove "continued human rights violations but also corroborate the charges of abuse in the past by the Badal regime."
The lawsuit against Badal has been filed under Alien Torts Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act on the charges of custodial torture and shielding the Police officers responsible for torture, extra judicial killings and continuous human rights violations against the Sikh community in Punjab.