Responding to the United States court summons, Parkash Singh Badal has sought 90 more days to defend the charges of commanding and shielding the police officers responsible for custodial torture and extra-judicial killings of Sikhs during his tenure as chief minister of Punjab.
In asking for extension through attorneys, he has also stated that the summons was served in a manner that was invalid and improper.
On August 8, the US court of Wisconsin had issued summons against Badal when he was in Milwaukee in the eastern district on a private visit to attend the wedding of the daughter of business tycoon Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, brother of Punjab cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.
Badal has hired two of the top law firms in the US—Kirkland and Ellis LLP of New York, and Milwaukee’s Michael Best and Friedrich LLP—to defend him against the charges of continuous human rights violations in Punjab as chief minister.
On August 30, representing Badal, attorney Michelle L Jacobs submitted a motion before the US court, asking “to dismiss for failure to effectuate service; or in the alternative, for an additional 90 days to file a responsive pleading”.
In the motion, attorney Jacobs has argued that “the defendant was not served with summons personally at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin, and the serving as claimed by the plaintiffs is “invalid and deficient procedurally”.
The motion argues that proper service is important “because the plaintiffs’ sole claim for jurisdiction and venue against the defendant, a foreign citizen, is based on 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.
Since the summons against Badal, scores of Sikh sufferers of torture and human rights abuses during the CM’s regime wanted to testify in the US court, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a human rights advocacy group based in New York, US, has stated.
Pannun said the SFJ would amend the complaint against Badal to add charges and the names of plaintiffs and witnesses who had suffered custodial abuse and torture.
Since the summons, Punjab Police are threatening the family of plaintiffs Jagtar Singh, Jeet Singh, Gurdeep Kaur, and Avtar Singh, Pannun has added. Citing continuous harassment by Badal regime of the close relatives of the plaintiffs back home, the SFJ representative argued that the threats were not only an evidence of continued human rights violations but also these corroborated the charges of abuse in the past.
The case against Badal has been filed under the Alien Torts Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act.