Punjab CM contests rights group claim in US court
Washington: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal through his attorney in a US court has contested the claims of a human rights group that he was served court summons in a case related to alleged human rights violations.
During a marathon hearing held in a US court in Wisconsin on Thursday, Biskupic & Jacobs - the attorneys representing Badal - produced witnesses to buttress their assertion that the Punjab Chief Minister was shopping and was not present at the Oak Creek High School when the New York-based Sikh for Justice claims to have presented him with the court summons.
Badal was in Wisconsin for the wedding of daughter of Darshan Singh Dhaliwal in August 2012 when "Sikhs For Justice" (SFJ) filed a human rights violations lawsuit against him under Alien Torts Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act in the Federal District Court of Wisconsin.
The human rights violation case against Badal has been filed by Sikh for Justice and the SAD (Amritsar).
Appearing in support of Badal, before Judge Adelman, Surinderpal Singh Kalra, a Chicago-based Sikh, testified that "on February 19, 2013 he found original summons and complaint that the process server had given him at Oak Creek High School, in the trunk of his car".
He claimed that the papers were handed over to him and not to Badal. Kalra also testified under oath that upon finding the original summons, he "immediately contacted Darshan Singh Dhaliwal".
However, he could not explain when cross examined by rights group's attorneys that "what made him come forward after six months of silence and the circumstances of finding the original Summons in the trunk of his car".
Special Agents from Diplomatic Security Service of the US Department of State testified that Badal was "shopping" at Boelter Super Store from 4:49 pm to 5:09 pm while the process server testified that he "served Badal" at 4:50 pm at Oak Creek High School where a ceremony was being held in honour of Sikh victims of Oak Creek Gurudwara shooting.
Badal's presence was claimed at Wisconsin State Fare, shopping at George Watts and Son Store and Boelter Super Store on August 09, 2012, the day Christopher G Kratochvil claimed serving Badal at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin.
Following the hearing Judge Adelman granted Sikh for Justice time till April 05, to probe the evidence, complete the jurisdictional discovery about the service of summon on Badal and submit supporting memorandum of law to the Court.
In a statement, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of SFJ said that rights group will subpoena the complete logs and records of Badal's security detail from the US Department of State to verify the Badal's claim of shopping at different locations and his absence from Oak Creek High School.
SFJ will also subpoena Kalra to discover his economic interest in the State of Punjab and his connections with Darshan Singh Dhaliwal and Badal, he said.