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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
NY court summons Kamal Nath in Sikh riots case, US declines diplomatic immunity

Amitav Ranjan

Washington has declined to step in and provide diplomatic immunity to senior Congress leader and now Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath who has been summoned in a civil lawsuit filed in a New York court last April alleging his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi.

There are no legal proceedings related to the 1984 riots against the Minister in India.

Official sources confirmed to The Sunday Express that the US State Department, responding to an Indian demarche asking Washington to intervene in the matter and annul the case, has argued that the matter is between Kamal Nath and the NGO, Sikhs for Justice. And that it doesn’t have any locus standi and, therefore, can’t intervene.

A member of the NGO in New York filed an affidavit saying she served the summons to Kamal Nath outside the consulate which, Nath’s lawyers say, is false as the area was heavily barricaded by NYPD due to presence of large number of Sikhs. Their claim is that the summons was never served.

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Washington, sources said, has assured New Delhi that if it receives a query from the court regarding Kamal Nath, it will certainly “clarify” his status.

When contacted, Kamal Nath told The Sunday Express:

“As far as I know, they (the US) have not rejected it (India’s request), at least not to my knowledge. I have never been charged with any offence here in India in the last 25 years.”

A spokesman for the Minister’s legal team said that procedures were not followed in executing the summons which, as per norms, should have been served by a court-authorised server.

The court has now served a “certificate of default” against Kamal Nath for not heeding the summons. “They claim to have served such a notice a day before the mandatory four-month period expired,” said Kamal Nath.

Washington’s position in this case is no different from its reticence to grant diplomatic immunity to senior diplomat Neena Malhotra, who was sued for slavery and abuse by her former Nepalese help during her posting at the New York Consulate during 2006-2009.

While the Foreign Ministry has absolved the present Director (South), the State Department refused to intervene despite been served no less than 10 demarches.




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