US court lets US group challenge Modi immunity

US court lets US group challenge Modi immunity

A US court has asked a human rights group to  respond by Nov 4 to the US government's "suggestion of immunity" in a  case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged crimes against  humanity.

US federal Judge Analisa Torres Tuesday issued an order asking the  American Justice Center (AJC) to file its response to suggestion of  immunity for Modi filed by US prosecutor Preet Bharara's office on  Sunday at the request of the State Department.

The State Department in a letter to the US justice department had  conveyed the Indian government's request to have the case against Modi  "dismissed on the basis of his immunity from jurisdiction as a sitting  foreign head of government."

The letter by State Department legal advisor Mary McLeod to Acting  Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda is dated Sep 30, the day Modi  had his formal summit meeting with President Barack Obama at the White  House.

"The Department of State recognizes and allows the immunity of Prime  Minister Modi as a sitting head of government from the jurisdiction of  the United States District Court in this suit," McLeod wrote.

"This letter recognizes the particular importance attached by the United  States to obtaining the prompt dismissal of the proceedings against  Prime Minister Modi in view of the significant foreign policy  implications of such an action," she added.

However AJC legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun contended that the  'suggestion of Immunity' filed by Bharara's office is not binding on the  court as Modi's alleged human rights violations before becoming Prime  Minister are not immune.

"The selective and arbitrary approach of the US Department of Justice on  the issue of immunity to foreign leaders will be the key factor in  challenging the immunity to PM Modi," he said.

The AJC case against Modi filed during his recent visit to the US seeks  his prosecution under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victims  Protection Act for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots when he  was the state's chief minister.

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