Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, through his attorney in a US court, has contested the claims of a human rights group that he was served court summons in a case related to alleged human rights violations.
During a marathon hearing held in a US court in Wisconsin on Thursday, Biskupic & Jacobs the attorneys representing Badal produced witnesses to buttress their assertion that the CM was shopping and was not present at the Oak Creek High School when the New York-based Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) claims to have presented him with the court summons.
Badal was in Wisconsin for the wedding of daughter of Darshan Singh Dhaliwal in August 2012 when the SFJ filed a human rights violations lawsuit against him under the Alien Torts Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act in the federal district court of Wisconsin.
The human rights violation case against Badal has been filed by the SFJ and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).
Appearing in support of Badal before judge Adelman, Surinderpal Singh Kalra, a Chicago-based Sikh, testified that "on February 19, 2013, he found original summons and complaint that the process server had given him at Oak Creek High School, in the trunk of his car."
He claimed that the papers were handed over to him and not to Badal. Kalra also testified under oath that upon finding the original summons, he "immediately contacted Dhaliwal."
However, he could not explain when cross-examined by the rights group's attorneys that "what made him come forward after six months of silence and the circumstances of finding the original summons in the trunk of his car."
Special agents from the Diplomatic Security Service of the US Department of State testified that Badal was "shopping" at Boelter Super Store from 4:49 to 5:09 pm while the process server testified that he "served Badal" at 4:50 pm at Oak Creek High School where a ceremony was being held in honour of Sikh victims of the Oak Creek gurdwara shooting.
Badal's presence was claimed at Wisconsin State Fare, shopping at George Watts and Son Store and Boelter Super Store on August 9, 2012, the day Christopher G Kratochvil claimed serving the summons on Badal at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin.
Following the hearing, judge Adelman granted SFJ time till April 5 to probe the evidence, complete the jurisdictional discovery about the service of summons on Badal and submit supporting memorandum of law to the court.
In a statement, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of the SFJ said the rights group would subpoena the complete logs and records of Badal's security detail from the US Department of State to verify the CM's claim of shopping at different locations and his absence from Oak Creek High School.
The SFJ will also subpoena Kalra to discover his economic interests in Punjab and his connections with Dhaliwal and Badal, he said.