Sikh Rights group to challenge dismissal of Badal case in US



Washington: A US-based Sikh group on Monday said that it will challenge the decision of an American district court last week to dismiss alleged human rights violations case against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The Sikh for Justice (SFJ) had filed the case of alleged human rights violations against Badal last year, but it was dismissed by a US district court in Wisconsin last Friday.

The group said it will appeal against the order in the US Court of Appeals asking for a remand to depose Badal personally before a US Federal Judge on the issue of the service of summons.

SFJ has retained the services of a top Chicago based law firm and famed Super Lawyers "Pavich Law Group" with Ian Levin, a former US federal judge, who have experience in cases related to human rights violations filed under Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victim Protection Act, the rights group said in a statement.

In its order, the US District Court in Wisconsin on May 17 ruled that Badal was never served with the court summons as being claimed by the New York-based Sikh for Justice, which had filed the case against him.

In fact judge Jynn Adelman, in his five page order, said that Sikh for Justice came out with "creative" but unconvincing argument that the court summons were served to Badal, which indeed was served by Christopher Kratochvil and his brother on behalf of SFJ to another Surinderpal Singh Kalra, believing that he was the Punjab Chief Minister.

"I have no doubt that Christopher Kratochvil and his brother sincerely believe that they served defendant, but I conclude that they made an honest mistake, one that was understandable under the unusual circumstances of this case," the judge wrote.

In a statement, SFJ said the appeal to the US Circuit Court will be based on that "Judge Adelman erred in his ruling while dismissing the law suit on the ground that it is a simple case of "mistaken identity" and a US Department of Justice interpreter received the summons instead of Badal".

Badal and his attorney, backed up by strong evidence from the State Department which had provided him the necessary diplomatic security, argued that the Chief Minister was not at the Oak Creek School when Kratochvill brothers claimed that they served summons to him on behalf of Sikh for Justice.

The State Department testified before the court that Badal was shopping at a restaurant supply store, some 17 miles from the Oak Creek School.

The judge in his order said that Sikh for Justice in an attempt to "overcome the strong evidence" in favor of Badal, made "a number of creative arguments" but none are convincing.

Sikh for Justice in its court case alleged that Badal violated the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute in Punjab.

PTI