US court dismisses case against Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal

Subpoena served to somebody else, rules court.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: A human rights case against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been dismissed by a US court because the Sikh advocacy group that filed it did not correctly serve Badal with a subpoena; instead, they allegedly served it to someone else.

Last year, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Shiromani Akali Dal wanted to bring Badal to court for his alleged persecution of Sikhs in his home state, saying that he has ordered killings and committed heinous human rights crimes. They then learned that Badal would be coming to Milwaukee for a wedding. However, a week before he came, the Oak Creek gurudwara attack happened, leaving six Sikhs dead.

Because of the attack, Badal received heightened media interest, and was invited to a Sikh forum that was scheduled to transpire at Oak Creek High School. SFJ got wind of Badal’s attendance, and sent a process server – someone who serves subpoenas – to the event in order to serve Badal.

The process server has alleged that he located and successfully served Badal a subpoene to appear in court for his alleged role in the Sikh persecutions. However, Badal’s lawyers said that it wasn’t Badal who was served, but rather an Illinois man who was at the event as a Punjabi translator.

The Illinois man allegedly bears a striking resemblance to Badal. The process server was told by SFJ that the man he was looking for would be elderly, have a turban, and wear glasses – exactly as the Illinois man is, too. It is not known if he was just given verbal instructions or was shown a picture, and it is not known whether or not the process server is Indian.

Milwaukee Judge Richard Posner of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals thereby dismissed the SFJ complaint, saying that eyewitness testimony could not verify that Badal had, in fact, been given a subpoena to appear in court. Without Badal present, a trial cannot occur.

The SFJ is apparent keen to take this case as high as the US Supreme Court, which only hears appeals cases that it deems are worthy, usually if the case’s verdict holds constitutional implications. SFJ legal counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is said to be making the case that Badal’s trial would have international implications because Badal’s denial about receiving the subpoena is an obstruction of justice.

Judge Posner initially offered the SFJ an additional 30 days to complete jurisdictional discovery, whereby they can ascertain whether or not Badal really was given the subpoena or if the process server made a mistake. However, the SFJ said that 30 days would not be enough time, and have therefore been given until February 24, 2014 to file their writ of certiorari for the Supreme Court.

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