For MEA, Modi summons a bid to distract; US says he has immunity

Written by Express news service | PTI | New Delhi/New York | Updated: Sep 27 2014, 16:19pm hrs
An American court has issued summons against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in 2002 communal riots in Gujarat when he was the chief minister, drawing a prompt response from the US which said he enjoys immunity as head of government.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the case was a frivolous and malicious attempt to distract attention from his visit to the US.

The summons against Modi were issued Thursday by the US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York on a civil lawsuit filed by the New York-based American Justice Centre, a non-profit human rights organisation, along with two survivors of the post-Godhra violence. The court said that Modi has to respond to the summons within 21 days after it is served on him. Modi returns to India on September 30. It has been learnt that a case has been filed against the Prime Minister in a local court in New York on the eve of the PMs visit to the US. This case is a frivolous and malicious attempt to distract attention from the visit of the Prime Minister to the United Nations General Assembly and a bilateral summit with the US President, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. The allegations in the case are baseless and similar to other such allegations made in the past against Prime Minister Modi. A Supreme Court of India-monitored investigation has comprehensively examined and dismissed these allegations as baseless. It is unfortunate that vested interests are raking up the matter only to vitiate the atmosphere during the visit. Appropriate steps are being taken to address the matter, he said. Meanwhile, US officials said that Modi enjoyed complete immunity for the duration of the visit not only from court proceedings, but also from being personally served or handed court summons. While we cannot comment specifically on this lawsuit, I can tell you that as a general legal principle, sitting heads of government enjoy immunity from suits in American courts, one official said. In addition, as a matter of treaty, heads of delegation to the UN General Assembly enjoy immunity while in New York to attend the UN event, the official added. Meanwhile, the BJP said the allegations are baseless and a false propaganda by certain frustrated elements rejected by the world. The allegations against the Prime Minister are baseless and a false propaganda by certain elements who have been rejected in the country and the world, BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said.