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U.S. Court in the Southern District of Texas Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against Modi

U.S. Court in the Southern District of Texas Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against Modi

  • The suit filed by a separatist Kashmir Khalistan organization and two associates named the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt. Gen. Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, and challenged the government’s decision to scrap Article 370.

A U.S. Court in the Southern District of Texas has dismissed a $100 million lawsuit filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt. Gen. Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, challenging the Indian Parliament’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir that abrogated the special privileges of the state and carved out two union territories. They have been accused of “extrajudicial killing” and “wrongful death, battery, emotional distress, crimes against humanity.” 

Dillon currently serves as director-general of the Defense Intelligence Agency and deputy chief of Integrated Defense Staff under the Chief of Defense Staff.

The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 19, 2019, days before Modi’s historic “Howdy, Modi!” event in Houston, Texas. The 73-page legal document was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, that allows for civil suits in U.S. courts against foreign officials.

The Press Trust of India reported that the lawsuit was dismissed after the litigants – a separatist Kashmir Khalistan outfit and two associates – failed to appear before it at two scheduled hearings. Apart from the Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front, the other two complainants have not been identified, other than the acronyms ‘TFK’ and ‘SMS’, the PTI report said. 

The suing party was represented by separatist lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the legal head of Sikhs for Justice, which was banned by the Government of India in July last year, under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for its alleged anti-national activities.

Citing court court records, the PTI reported that Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front was able to serve the summons to Modi, Shah and Dhillon at the Indian Consulate in Houston on Feb.18, 2020. 

In an Oct. 6 order, recommending that the case be dismissed, Judge Frances H Stacy said the complainants “have done nothing to prosecute this case”, and have now failed to appear at two duly set Scheduling Conferences. A conference was set by the court for Aug. 2 and Oct. 6. 2. The case was terminated by Judge Andrew S Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Texas, Oct. 22. 

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On Sept. 22, 2019, Modi, accompanied by President Donald Trump, addressed a crowd of over 50,000 Indian-Americans at the “Howdy, Modi!” event at the NRG stadium in Houston. Modi and Trump showered praises on each other in their addresses. 

This  is the second time that Modi’s U.S. sojourn has triggered the filing of a lawsuit. 

Previously in September 2014, with less than 24 hours to go before the start of his United Nations visit, the U.S. Federal Court of the Southern District of New York issued summons against him for his alleged involvement and complicity in the 2002 Godhra riots. The summons was issued in connection with a lawsuit filed by the American Justice Center (AJC), which represented two survivors of the Gujarat violence in 2002. Modi was the chief minister of the Indian state when the riots occurred. However, the lawsuit was subsequently dismissed in January 2015.

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