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Usa Police Can Arrest Kamal Nath

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In the season of embarrassments for the UPA government, here’s the latest. A court in New York has issued summons to Union urban development minister Kamal Nath for his alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. While it’s not clear whether he is legally bound to honour the summons, Washington has declined to provide him diplomatic immunity.

It means, once he arrives in the USA, the police can take him into custody, said a top government lawyer, adding he has the option of challenging the court’s powers.

The summons followed a civil lawsuit filed by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based non-profit human rights advocacy group, and victims Jasbir Singh and Mohinder Singh in April last year.The plaintiffs claimed that Kamal Nath was present when Sikhs were being attacked outside a gurudwara.

“Due to his influence and political powers, he escaped the courts in India,’’ said lawyer for Sikh victims in India HS Phoolka. The plaintiffs have asked the US court to grant compensatory and punitive damages for his role in the genocide.

This is the first case in which the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) have been invoked against India. The enactments empower a US district court to try a leader and hold him liable for the human rights violations of his subordinates under the principle of “command responsibility”.

“It’s wonderful news,’’ said noted rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves. “The victims have the legitimate right to invoke the enactments and get their decades-old grievance redressed by a foreign court.’’

Former additional solicitor general Altaf Ahmed said, “He will be arrested there. The US court doesn’t have the power to interfere in India’s jurisdiction. The Indian courts can strike down the process initiated abroad.’’ He added, “The minister will have to get the summons quashed in the US.’’

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Sikhs for Justice to launch ‘oust-Kamal Nath’ campaign

Perneet Singh/TNS

Amritsar, January 24

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based human rights advocacy group, today announced that they, along with the 1984 riots victims, will launch a campaign in India asking PM Manmohan Singh to sack Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath due to his alleged involvement in an attack on Gurdawara Rakab Ganj Sahib and killings of Sikhs in November 1984.

Talking to TNS, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to the SFJ, described Nath’s comment on a US court summoning him in connection with the 1984 riots as “absurd”.

He said: “Nath’s argument that no case has been filed against him in India during the past 26 years is absurd because if a case is not filed against a criminal, it does not mean that he has not committed crimes. It only shows how the Congress and the Indian governments have been protecting and shielding the perpetrators and organisers of the 1984 Sikh genocide.”

According to Pannun, “The Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of the US, the law under which trial against Nath will be held, is specifically created to provide remedy and forum to victims of genocide to vindicate their complaints and the trial against Nath is one such opportunity through which the SFJ plans to put on the record of the court the evidence related to the genocide of Sikhs and Nath’s role in it.”

In April last year, the SFJ, along with two individuals, had filed a law suit against Nath in the US district court under the ATCA and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) asking the court to order compensatory and punitive damages against him. Nath has been recently summoned by the court in this connection.

He said the plaintiffs had asked for a “jury trial” and would have the right to call upon survivors and experts on genocide as witnesses to prove that “the systematic killing of Sikhs in the November 1984 was genocide as defined under the Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide”.

The SFJ also claimed that due to the seriousness of allegations of human rights violation against Nath, the US Department of State had declined to intervene and the trial before the US district court would proceed from February 9, 2011. “After being summoned by the US court in 2010, Nath had sought diplomatic immunity so he could avoid trial in the case. However, his request for immunity has been turned down by the US Department of State,” the rights group claimed.

But reports pouring in from the USA today suggest that the US has made “no determination” on the question of diplomatic immunity for Nath. “The immunity question remains under review by the state department. We have not made any determination on this point,” a state department official said in response to media reports that it has denied “diplomatic immunity” request from India.

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