The United States Court of Appeals for the eastern district of Wisconsin dismissed a human rights violation case against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal last week.
New York-based rights group Sikhs for Justice had filed the case. The court noted that the SFJ did not effectuate a summons on Badal. The appeals court’s November 26 order by Judge Richard Posner gives SFJ the right to re-file the lawsuit against him.
Sikhs for Justice will challenge the judgment in the US supreme court, according to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor, SFJ.
The plaintiffs have till February 24 to file a writ.
The SFJ along with families of victims of alleged extra judicial killings had filed a class action suit in 2012 in the federal district court in Milwaukee.
Badal arrived in America August 7, 2012 on a private visit and the suit was filed the next day. He was to attend a memorial service for the Oak Tree Wisconsin gurdwara shooting victims at a high school.
The SFJ claimed the summons were delivered to Badal at the event, but the chief minister’s attorney argued that he was not present there.
The defense attorney presented evidence in the district court that the person who had been served the summons was an American citizen named Surinderpal Singh Kalra, who was at the event August 9 as an interpreter
Kalra later testified in court that he had received the service papers intended for the defendant while standing at the front of the room waiting for the meeting to begin, but that he had not understood their significance. He brought the papers to the court.
Badal’s attorney noted that the chief minister had security from the state department and they were always with him.
The security kept a running account of his every move on his visit to Milwaukee; and not only was there no mention of a visit to the high school, but also there was a notation that Badal had arrived at a store at 4:49 pm, one minute before the summons were allegedly served him, and had left the store at 5:09 pm after ordering some $1,000 worth of equipment.
The store is 17 miles from the high school.
Moreover, no one who had been at the high school event (attended by about 60 people) testified to having seen the chief minister.
Kratochvil testified that he had indeed served Badal and not Kalra. He testified that the defendant was indeed the person whom he had served, as did his brother, who was with him and is also a process server.
Judge Lynn Adelman noted that Christopher Kratochvil, who was hired by SFJ to serve the summons, had never seen Badal.
“Even eyewitness identification, we now know, is highly fallible,” he said.
The SFJ and other plaintiffs asked for more time to prove that Badal was served properly. But the judge dismissed the case.
The plaintiffs filed an appeal against it in the 7th court.
The SFJ’s appeal to the court of appeals argued that the 30 days given to plaintiffs were not sufficient to complete jurisdictional discovery to find out whether it was Kalra or Badal who was served at Oak CreekHigh School or Kalra’s testimony was fabricated or influenced by agents of chief minister.
Posner’s order holds that “it would have been reasonable to grant another 30 days for more discovery, but not reversible error that US District Judge Lynn Adelman thought otherwise.”
Image: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal