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US court permits Sikh group to summon Manmohan Singh

New York, March 1 (IANS) A US federal judge in Washington has granted a Sikh rights group’s plea to serve summons on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in India in a case of alleged violation of human rights during his tenure.
The 1965 Hague Service Convention allows the process of judicial documents from one signatory state to another without the use of consular and diplomatic channels.
A Washington federal court had issued summons against Manmohan Singh during his September 2013 visit to Washington on a plea by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) accusing him of “funding crimes against humanity perpetrated upon the Sikh community in India”.
In response to SFJ’s plea for extension of time to serve summons on Manmohan Singh in India, judge James E. Boasberg Friday ordered that “plaintiffs shall by April 14, 2014, either file proof of service or file a status report updating the Court on their progress in effecting services”.
SFJ had filed a motion with the court requesting extension of time.
In support of its motion, SFJ submitted a copy of the engagement letter retaining Process Forwarding Internationala (PFI), a Washington-based firm to serve summons on Manmohan Singh in India as per Hague Service Convention.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ cited the US State Department’s recent Human Rights Report in support of SFJ allegations of “widespread torture, extrajudicial killings and security force abuses” during Manmohan Singh’s tenure.
SFJ has also alleged that Manmohan Singh, as finance minister of India, funded several counter insurgency operations in Punjab during the 1990s resulting in more than hundred thousand Sikhs being killed extrajudicially by Indian security forces.
Under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), US federal courts have jurisdiction over cases of human rights violations even if they have occurred on foreign soils as in this case, Pannun said.

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