Sitting Heads of State enjoy immunity: US

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New York, Sep 26: Visiting heads of State not only enjoy immunity from American lawsuits but also they cannot be personally served or handed court summons, the US today said, a day after a court here issued summons against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat when he was the state's chief minister.

The summons against Modi were issued by US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York following a lawsuit filed by the New York-based American Justice Center, a non-profit human rights organisation, along with two "unnamed" survivors of the 2002 Gujarat violence.

"We are aware from press reports of the lawsuit that was filed against Prime Minister Modi yesterday in the federal district court of New York," a senior Obama administration official told reporters during a conference call when asked about the lawsuit against Modi.

"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," the US official said.

"Sitting heads of government also enjoy personal inviolability while in the United States, which means they cannot be personally handed or delivered papers or summons to begin the process of this," the 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. Modi is scheduled to arrive in New York today on his maiden US visit as prime minister.

PTI

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