A US federal judge has set an evidentiary hearing for January 29 in a human rights violations case against the Punjab chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, to resolve basic jurisdictional issues.
Wisconsin judge Rudolph T Randa set the hearing on a petition by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) that seeks the court's protection against alleged threats and abuse to the families of the plaintiffs in India by Badal's agents. The CM, through his lawyers, has sought dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of service of summons after two special agents from the state department's diplomatic security service claimed in sworn statements that Badal had not been present at Oak Creek High School on August 9 as claimed by the plaintiffs.
During evidentiary hearing, plaintiffs will challenge Badal's claim that on August 9, he was at Boelter Super Store in Milwaukee and not at Oak Creek High School, where a ceremony was being held in the memory of the Sikh victims of the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting. "To refute Badal's claim, we will present evidence and witnesses to prove that Badal was served the court summons personally by Christopher G Kratochvil of State Processing Service Inc at Oak Creek High School, Wisconsin," said SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
The lawyer described judge Randa's order as "a major step forward in seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Badal for his role in commanding and protecting a police force involved in continuous human rights violations against Sikhs in Punjab." The plaintiffs are the SFJ, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann, and people who claim to have been tortured during the Badal regime.