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US-based rights group opposes Barack Obama administration's 'suggestion of immunity' to Manmohan Singh

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 - 2:16pm IST | Agency: ANI

Rights group "Sikhs for Justice" has challenged the suggestion of the United States to grant immunity to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a pending human rights violation law suit before a Washington Federal Court.

The May 2 submission by the US Department of Justice states that "the interest of the United States in this matter arises from a determination by the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States, in consideration of the relevant principles of customary international law, and in the implementation of its foreign policy and in the conduct of its international relations, to recognize Prime Minister Singh's immunity from this suit while in office."

"The United States expresses no view on the merits of plaintiffs' claims against Prime Minister Singh", the suggestion of immunity submitted in the Federal Court further statesd

The right group's June 16 opposition to the suggestion of immunity argued that because the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) does not cover acts committed by foreign officials in their "official capacity", and because the defendant, Manmohan Singh, is not the Prime Minister of India anymore, the plaintiffs oppose the suggestion of immunity".

Attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to the "Sikhs For Justice" (SFJ), while giving details to ANI, informed that the SJF, while opposing the suggestion of immunity, had also requested the court to "take "judicial notice" that on May 26, 2014, Mr. Narendra Modi took the oath of the Office of Prime Minister of India.

Manmohan Singh, the defendant in this case, is no longer the Prime Minister of India, and therefore, does not enjoy immunity as the "head of a foreign government", Pannun said.

In April, the Deputy Principal Legal Advisor of the US Department of State had asked the Department of Justice to submit a "Suggestion of Immunity" to the court and take necessary steps for dismissal of case against the former prime minister.

A federal court in Washington had issued summons to Manmohan Singh on the charges of "funding several counter insurgency operations in state of Punjab during the 1990s.

The case against Manmohan Singh was filed during September 2013 under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). 

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